Skip to comments.FBI wants public to help break murdered man's code (1999 murder)
Posted on 04/12/2011 1:02:11 AM PDT by Islander7
WASHINGTON -- A lifelong fan of codes, Ricky McCormick wrote out two pages of letters, numbers and symbols and stuck them in his pocket. His body was found in a Missouri cornfield in the summer of 1999, those two sheets of paper still in his pants.
ALPONTE GLSE - SE ERTE, one line read. Is that a coded plea for help? A reminder to pick up the laundry from the cleaners? The beginnings of a commentary on the weather in St. Louis?
If you know, the FBI's top code-breaking unit wants your help in breaking McCormick's code - one that has baffled government cryptologists for more than a decade - and perhaps solving his murder.
(Excerpt) Read more at sunherald.com ...
"We asked the family, and they said he did it quite often," said Lt. Craig McGuire of the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department. "Nobody really knows what it means. It's kind of like private diary writing."
Without the key, will be a miracle.
I have used ciphers in past for various activities, but I also know the key.If he had memorised the key and not written down, will be shear luck.
On the other hand guy may have been a nut( Barney Fife)
From the looks of him, it was just bad spelling
It will be more difficult not knowing info about the man...note that there are three numerals on bottom of p1. Do they, or a relative-addition combo, mean anything? It seems to have an unencrypted possessive apostrophe-S combo.
It’s the only apostrophe I can make out. There may be another; but am not sure. Also uses wld and al a lot and several dashes.
What struck me as odd is when he uses parentheses he does so with code beginning with letters; never with numbers except one place and that is the 194.
Article is short on identifiers, but for guy with 9th grade education to baffle the FBI for 10 yrs, indicates that this will be solved by dumb luck.
If I were to guess they will eventually find that the code has nothing to do with his death. More likely he was in wrong place at wrong time.
On the other hand if this code means anything will be interesting once key is discovered.
That thing that looks like a “p” with 1 nearby and a circle might mean “Page 1” perhaps. Is there a reward?
Note, the three numbers and apostrophe on the first page. Dollars to donuts that’s an address.
As a bit of background, I recall reading that this fellow was a high-school dropout that was likely involved in local criminal circles. Codebooks are common where there’s money laundering or drug trade, so that fits as well.
I’m guessing the code is more of a personal shorthand than a real cipher, and coupled with the man’s educational background and probable urban criminal culture means that he could be using personal code letters for badly spelled words or street slang.
Still, I’m willing to bet that it’s not a particularly complex code and in no way rises to the level of a one-time-pad. Little clues like the numbers and apostrophe may allow one a rough guess at the meaning, and a bit of further insight into the code if the guess correlates to known information about the person and his habits.
So, I’m guessing that the 194 WLD’S is an address and street name. Three letters... Martin Luther King? Maybe that would account for the possessive. Google shows multiple “Martin Luther King Drive” streets around Saint Louis and ESL. Interesting spelling/naming in my experience, as most such streets are named MLK Jr. Boulevard. Google maps shows a VERY rundown urban area around an Acme Glass shop in the area, with some other possible hits for the address elsewhere.
Lots of ncbe’s also, kind of implies that it’s a straightforward substitution code. I wonder what a letter count would show?
He uses the four letter string “N C B E” a lot.
Yeah, maybe a codeword/shorthand for a commonly visited place/person or a particular product or activity. I’m caught dry on guesses as to what though.
The repetitions would indicate that he is not using a shifting key.
I will bet you dollars to doughnuts he is using letter/number replacement - possibly rotating but if so only one-wheel and/or with another simple substitution set - on a standard prison “tap” code, i.e. break the alphabet into a grid or reverse grid, etc. and make “F” for instance 23 (or BC)(2 across three down on the grid.)
I cannot imagine it would be hard to crack any code that one man keeps in his mind.
Speaking of private keys, I find it odd that we both used the expression “dollars to doughnuts” in our posts. I am not terribly worldly, but I know of only one other person who uses this expression regularly, Freeper Kenny Bunk.
First step is to take a bunch of crack, then you can crack the code.
It probably means nothing — like the bafflegab stuff John Nash wrote in “A Beautiful Mind”.
Ah yes...I think I’ve cracked the code.
And no, I’m not telling where the gold is buried.
And no, Im not telling where the gold is buried.
Ha ... better get going. I cracked it too, I'm in Kansas City and I'm closer to the location. By the time you get there, you'll just find a hole & a pile of dirt ...
Well, if you think the gold is actually buried at THAT place - good luck to you! (It was clearly a misdirection. I’m still the only one who knows the real location!)
PS: Watch out for Angel Eyes and Tuco. Those two are not to be trifled with.
It may not be code at all, but simply short hand.
Just like BRB,ROFL,etc.
A high-school teacher and his wife broke the Zodiac code with 20 hours of effort.
The lines in parentheses on p1 with similar numerals are nearly identical except for a few characters.
I’ve cracked it!! Let’s see now...
Son of a....
They were on the way to my flat, when their electric speedboat shorted out. Working alone, all I was able to decipher was "Nxrdxxn Bmbsitexxx NxZI Spxies"
Nancy Drew was not at home when I called. Frank Merriweather is away at Yale. I am a plucky young chap, though, and I do so want that "Codes and Ciphers" Merit Badge, so I'll soldier on alone.
If you perchance run into Frank and Joe out on the lake, ask them to check in after they get that darned speedboat fixed. Our country's security is at stake.
Thinking inside the box:
“They have tried just about all of the standard routes of cryptanalysis that the top experts use, he said, so the FBI didn’t bother asking for help from the government’s chief code-breaking agency, the National Security Agency, and its high-powered computers in the Maryland suburbs just outside the capital.”
Let’s see: We can’t figure it out, we tried all the standard methods without success so we’re going to ignore the NSA - the premiere, best funded spy agency on the planet. Makes sense to me.
For my part, it’d be easier from the start with a transcription of the letters and numbers to typeface so one could more easily look for patterns eg. is that an “r” an “n” ... ? If in doubt you can refer to the original but a text version would be useful ... ;-)