The Code of Ricky McCormick

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Ricky McCormick, found deceased June 30, 1999 in a field located in St. Charles Missouri. At the time of his death he was not married yet had fathered 4 children, suffered from chronic lung and heart issues, had served 11 months of a 3 year sentence for statutory rape, he was not legally employed and on disability.

Initially his death had not been labeled as a homicide in fact, the St. Charles County Medical Examiner’s Office ultimately ruled McCormick’s cause of death “undetermined.” Yet police suspected foul play. No one, not one single person reported Ricky as missing. The last known time that anyone saw Ricky alive was 5 days prior to his body being found. He was at the St. Louis Forest Park Hospital for an asthma issue.

The media never mentioned a cipher note being found with Ricky when his body was discovered. That detail did not get released until 12 years later in March of 2011 when the FBI decided they would list his death as a homicide.

Two hand-written documents were found in the pockets of Ricky’s clothing. Attempts by the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) and the American Cryptogram Association failed to decipher the meanings of those two coded notes, which are listed as one of the CRRU’s top unsolved cases.

Here’s where things get interesting:

  • McCormick had just traveled back from Florida, from where he had allegedly brought back baseball-sized zip-lock bags of marijuana for Baha Hamdallah, brother of the owner of the gas station where McCormick worked. Also a local drug dealer.
  • He was closely associated with some violent if not actually sociopath type individuals
  • The stretch of road his body was found on was used for dumping dead bodies both before and after his death
  • McCormick’s family knew nothing about the notes until they heard them mentioned on the news, 12 years after his death.

Ricky’s family was rather in your face about how they felt about Ricky his mother, Frankie Sparks, describes him as “retarded.” His cousin Charles McCormick, who shared a brotherly relationship with Ricky for most of his life, says Ricky would often talk “like he was in another world” and suspects Ricky might have suffered from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The family swears that Ricky could hardly read or write when he left school. “The only thing he could write was his name”, and that Ricky “couldn’t spell anything, just scribble.”

For a family who left him in an unmarked, unkempt grave, one that they never visit, they never even reported him missing, I found it highly doubtful they knew much about Ricky, nothing much at all.

He experienced chest pains and shortage of breath the week before he died, severe enough for him to check into ER. (Though admittedly he had smoked “at least a pack of cigarettes a day” since he was ten, and typically drank “more than twenty caffeinated beverages a day”). Just 20? I believe I can put away a hell of a lot more coffee than just 20 cups a day…but that’s just me.

The last time anyone saw Ricky was around 5 p.m., June 25, he entered the emergency room at Forest Park Hospital, less than two miles from Barnes-Jewish. This time he complained that he was having trouble breathing following an afternoon of mowing grass. Doctors diagnosed his wheezing as another asthma flare-up. He was not admitted, however, and was officially released at 5:50 p.m.

After that, it’s all hearsay. His girlfriend at the time says she spoke to him on the phone, June 26th, at around 11:30am, he told her he was going to get a bite to eat. One gas station employee told police that he saw Ricky on June 27th. Medical examiners have said they believe he died the same day the gas station attendant reports to have seen Ricky.

Ricky’s body was so badly decomposed when he was found medical examiners really could not determine the cause of death.

Personally, given both his mental frame of mind and health issues, on top of smoking, I believe that Ricky became confused, backed into his own mind if you will in one of his fantasies and subsequently, died of natural causes. Unlike the FBI and police and despite the fact that he did run with a rather unsettling crowd, hands down, no one murdered this poor man. He was viewed as a simpleton and in all honesty, not one single person had any reason to fear Ricky, not even his unsettling acquaintances. They knew just as I know, nothing he said to anyone nothing he could have said would have been believed. Period!

What I am most intrigued with are the notes he had in with him at the time of death.  The FBI believes they are something, yet despite every effort they could make they still have not deciphered them. I believe that the FBI is correct.

The problem is thousands of individuals have tried to crack Ricky’s code and to date no one has. These notes could be a shopping list, a to do list, directions to where he was supposed to pick up or drop off drugs…they could be a million things.


That’s where all of you reading this come into play. I have tried to figure them out, honestly I am not a code breaker. So maybe one of you lovely individuals can break the code?

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Here are the rules:

Be respectful, honest and I have shut off comments to this post. Instead I have included the link to the FBI’s case for Ricky where if anyone thinks that he or she might be able to crack Ricky’s coded notes, you can submit the information.

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/march/cryptanalysis_032911

Let’s be honest, no one really cared about or loved Ricky like he should have been. The way his family has spoken to the media about him is deplorable. Ricky never had a chance in this world without love and support. He was a human being who died too soon, he deserved more and he deserved better from society and this world, especially his family.

Cristal M Clark

@thecrimeshop

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