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Sunday, April 03, 2011

FBI wants public help solving encrypted notes from murder mystery

The FBI is seeking the public's help in breaking the encrypted code found in two notes discovered on the body of a murdered man in 1999.

The FBI says that officers in St. Louis, Missouri discovered the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick on June 30, 1999 in a field and the clues regarding the homicide were two encrypted notes found in the victim's pants pockets.

The FBI says that despite extensive work by its Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), and the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of those two coded notes remain a mystery and McCormick's murderer has never been found.

From the FBI: "The more than 30 lines of coded material use a maddening variety of letters, numbers, dashes, and parentheses. McCormick was a high school dropout, but he was able to read and write and was said to be 'street smart.' According to members of his family, McCormick had used such encrypted notes since he was a boy, but apparently no one in his family knows how to decipher the codes, and it's unknown whether anyone besides McCormick could translate his secret language. Investigators believe the notes in McCormick's pockets were written up to three days before his death."

"Standard routes of cryptanalysis seem to have hit brick walls," said CRRU chief Dan Olson in a statement. To move the case forward, examiners need another sample of McCormick's coded system-or a similar one-that might offer context to the mystery notes or allow valuable comparisons to be made. Or, short of new evidence, Olson said, "Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea."

If you have an idea how to break the code, have seen similar codes, or have any information about the Ricky McCormick case, write to CRRU at the following address:

FBI Laboratory
Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
Attn: Ricky McCormick Case

There is no reward being offered, just the knowledge that you may be solving an intriguing murder mystery, the FBI stated.

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