In an area of St. Charles County, Missouri, known to be a dumping ground for bodies, the remains of Ricky McCormick were found on June 30, 1999 (C. 2018). His remains were already in a state of decay and to identify him his fingers were removed and the partial fingerprints that could be obtained were used (Casale 2016). McCormick had been missing for three days, but had not actually been reported missing yet by anyone. He had last been seen at the gas station the 41-year old worked at, Amoco. McCormick was known to have chronic lung and heart problems and was known not to have a vehicle or drive. This made something strange – McCormick’s remains were found more than 20 miles from his home. His cause of death is cited as unknown, but is classified by police as a homicide. He was strangely decomposed, despite being dead for no more than three days (C. 2018). How did he end up so far from home without a vehicle? There was no public transport available to bring him there, either (Casale 2016). The theory is that his body was held somewhere before being dumped where he was found by whomever killed him (C. 2018).
On top of the mystery of how McCormick ended up so far from home, strange handwritten letters were found in his pockets. The letters were written in an apparent code that involved letters, numbers, and the use of parentheses (C. 2018). The FBI declared the case a homicide 12 years after McCormick’s remains were found, and the letters and their ciphers were made public (Casale 2016). There are similarities throughout the note, leading to the belief that the letter should be solvable. For an unknown reason, all attempts have failed. It is believed that the answer to McCormick’s death is in the letter, though some think the letter was planted to throw investigators off the trail of the real killer (C. 2018). A supposed acronym, “NCBE,” and the numbers 71, 74, and 75 make frequent appearances in the letters. Two theories explain the use of these numbers and the “NCBE”: the numbers could be local highways or they could be slang used by local drug dealers. Other suggested explanations include a schedule for medications, general gibberish, or car parts (Casale 2016).
Another theory is that McCormick himself came up with the cipher and wrote the note. While McCormick was only semi-literate and seemed to have possible learning disabilities, he was known to tell tall tales and seems to have had a vivid imagination. Many who believe that McCormick wrote the note think it is written in a shorthand he developed throughout his life. If this is true, it would likely be impossible for anyone else to decipher it. The secret code used would have died with him if it was a short hand he made. Members of his family claimed he had been writing in a “secret language” since he was a small child, but other family members seem to believe that he was incapable of reading or writing at all. Those who believe that McCormick didn’t write the note, believe that he was acting as a courier and delivering the letter to someone (C. 2018). Could whomever the note was meant for have been McCormick’s killer? Or could the person who wrote it have killed him?
In an effort to find answers, the police searched McCormick’s past for any possible leads. McCormick was unmarried, despite fathering four children, and had dropped out of high school (Casale 2016). In 1990, McCormick pled guilty to statutory rape after fathering two children with a 14-year old girl (C. 2018), for which he served nearly a year in jail (Casale 2016), and his girlfriend told police at the time of his death that he had taken a trip to Florida to pick up marijuana for his boss. According to both his girlfriend and his mother, McCormick seemed afraid after his trip, and it is known that a high-level drug dealer was working in the area at the time. A police informant told police that the dealer, Gregory Knox, had claimed to have dumped the body of a black man he killed, who worked at a local gas station, near where McCormick’s body was found (C. 2018). Perhaps either his boss or Knox killed him after whatever he did in Florida. Perhaps something happened there that lead to his murder. McCormick was seen alive five days before his remains were recovered, at a hospital in St. Louis (Casale 2016).
Who killed Ricky McCormick? Why? What do the letters found in his pockets say? It is possible that there will never be true answers. In researching the case, there were few articles and many seemed to have the same information. The case is a mystery, with very little information to help those hoping to solve it. That being said, the letters are found easily online for those who wish to try their hands at solving the cipher. Perhaps, someday, someone will solve it.
C. (2018, March 02). The Unsolved Murder of Ricky McCormick. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://thetruecrimefiles.com/ricky-mccormick-murder/
Casale, S. (2016, August 31). The Case of the Ricky McCormick Murder Notes. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://the-line-up.com/ricky-mccormick