Fun with Unsolved Homicides: Ricky McCormick

Wikipedia entry:

FBI’s page to cryptanalysts:

KPLR-TV, “Cracking code could help solve St. Charles murder case”, Charles Jaco, March 30, 2011:

(This article with photo of police scene and corpse is disappointingly missing.)

Riverfront Times, “Code Dead: Do the encrypted writings of Ricky McCormick hold the key to his mysterious death?”, Christopher Tritto, June 12, 2012:

Preamble: it is of course nearly impossible to garner a complete picture from the scant clues provided. Though there is a “police science” basis for holding back so many details (such as cause of death), it should not come as a terrible surprise from a government bureaucracy who thinks it does not have to comply with the Open Government Directive:

(Doesn’t exist. Even NSA and CIA have bullshit open pages up. DoJ does, suppose that sufficed).

Assuming that McCormick did indeed write those pages, why?

One reason springs to mind: because he was attempting to trick or con someone either into thinking he was literate or that and something else. He could neither read nor write. He was known to pretend to write, however.

Assuming that is the case, then those pages aren’t code, they are gibberish. Or perhaps only mostly gibberish.

Assume for a moment further that the reason he was writing it was because it was supposed to be a suicide note. Did the stupid killer or killers not realize that he could not write, didn’t check the paper after they dropped his body or killed him in the cornfield?

The other–more likely I think–is he wrote the gibberish as part of a bluff (“buried treasure” marijuana or cash in a corn field?) and got dropped once they realized he was as full of shit as a politician. He and the girlfriend smoked or spent some of what he was supposed to bring back from Florida and someone wanted it back. He likely admitted the truth once the ruse was up, begged, and was killed.

The circling of paragraphs on page 2 implies the latter purpose rather than suicide note (unless it also was to serve as a will, “this to mom”, “this to dad”, etc.). Did he owe someone money or some missing pot, and this was his attempt to delay them? Was he busily scribbling notes, pretending to keep track of what someone told him, as they attempted to trick him into a relaxed state by making him believe he was going to work off his debt with his lenders?

Was it a “treasure map” that they made him write, then upon seeing it, he said only he could decipher it. They took him out to show it and left him, “pirate” style.  (Was he a fan of Pirates of the Carribean? Some movie or TV version of Treasure Island ? Or maybe a comic book?). Maybe there actually was money or pot hidden there.

Was the mere presence of the note itself a coded message? Certainly, his parents seemed puzzled by it. A “note” that what happened to him was likewise not normal?

There is also the repetition of “TFRNE” on page one:


This might be an unconscious repetition (try repeating a long string of “random” numbers, play it back, and hear how long it was before you repeated a sequence). Was he interrupted at that point and rewrote those letters because that was a “favored” nonsense word?

Or, if written in the presence of the killers, he might have written down something he saw on the wall, in a vehicle. The 71, 74, 75 sequence on page 1 might support that:


Diplomas? Awards for best service, employee of the month? Something in that gas station? Car photos?

People who are illiterate sometimes want to make other people think that they aren’t. I suspect that’s the reason for the “coded” notes growing up. It’s like a toupee for people like ‘Balding.’

That’s all.

* Both sad and sadly unsurprising. (Nothing personal, Agent Olson.)

(@ Janus. Happy New Year.)

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