Thursday, April 14, 2011

Help the FBI Solve a Murder

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Victim's Encrypted Notes Could Break Cold Case

[This story is taken directly from the FBI's website.]

On June 30, 1999, sheriff’s officers in St. Louis, Missouri discovered the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick. He had been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues regarding the homicide were two encrypted notes found in the victim’s pants pockets.

Despite extensive work by FBI's Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), as well as help from the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of those two coded notes remain a mystery to this day, and Ricky McCormick’s murderer has yet to face justice.

“We are really good at what we do,” said CRRU chief Dan Olson, “but we could use some help with this one.”

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.

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Over the years, a number of CRRU’s examiners—who are experts at breaking codes—have puzzled over the McCormick notes and applied a variety of analytical techniques to tease out an answer. “Standard routes of cryptanalysis seem to have hit brick walls,” Olson noted. Our cryptanalysts have several plausible theories about the notes, but so far, there has been no solution.

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.”

That’s where the public comes in. The FBI has always relied on tips and other assistance from the public to solve crimes, and although breaking a code may represent a special circumstance, your help could aid the investigation. Take a look at McCormick’s two notes. If you have an idea how to break the code, have seen similar codes, or have any information about the Ricky McCormick case, send them to FBI online at 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 a challenge—and the satisfaction of knowing that your brain power might help bring a killer to justice.

“Even if we found out that he was writing a grocery list or a love letter,” Olson said, “we would still want to see how the code is solved. This is a cipher system we know nothing about.”

In fact, Ricky McCormick’s encrypted notes are one of CRRU’s top unsolved cases. “Breaking the code,” said Olson, “could reveal the victim’s whereabouts before his death and could lead to the solution of a homicide. Not every cipher we get arrives at our door under those circumstances.”


JOSEPH from SPAIN said...

Now no one reads the works of Poe?

"XorlX" is "Mccormick", remember "the Gold Bug" a letter repeats itself. I suggest to work as the caracther of William Legrand did whith the note of captain Kidd.

X=MC, C, and CK
OR=OR equal.
L=M, he uses the code cesar +1.

The note are crypted and shorted.

It is the master key.

Bye from Spain.

JOSEPH from SPAIN said...


--In my humble opinion to resolve this enigma is necessary that:

+Look at the last line of the 2nd note , which i seem to see written: "O-W-m-4 H8L XORLX".

--Can you tell which letters are repeated and where are they?
--Can you remember HAL 9000 and the joke of Arthur C. Clarke?. Then..
+If X= Variations of the letter C (as MC, C, CK) a typical use a shorthand.
+If L= M, H= I and m=N using the Caesar Code B.
+If O=O, W=W and R=R.
+If 4=four=for and 8=eight=eit=ei= letter A for phonetics reasons.
+If hyphen joins letters in a word. Then...


--Then we have the signature of Mccormick and we know that the note are his last will and testament: And also we know the master key to transcribe the rest of the text before Obama come back to Jerusalem.


Janet Dobler said...

I didn't crack the whole code. I am not really positive that I got much of anything at all except some directions on freeways traveling from South to north then down through New Mexico heading SE. But, If Ricky actually wrote these notes I don't believe he was into anything good. There seems to be a lot of talk about paying death and opids. Maybe I didn't any of it for real so I checked the highways and freeways and what I thought was directions and they panned out okay. It isn't complete sentences Just things like "said ask asked. I don't know if you can use it. I do it more in a there is only so many one letter words, then I look for the two letter words and so on. I has to make sense and the letters must be in every line of the code and it is a lengthy process and my notes are probably hard to follow but if you would tell me where to send it to I can let you look it over and it just might be enough of a clue someone else can break it.