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FBI asks public for help breaking encrypted notes tied to 1999 murder

April 2, 2011
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Yahoo News, 29 March 2011: In what seems like a throwback to the still-unsolved Zodiac killings that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s, the FBI has sent out a public appeal for amateur sleuths to help solve a key cryptographic clue in a 1999 murder case.

On June 30, 1999, police officers in St. Louis, Missouri found the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick, who’d been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues investigators recovered from the scene were two encrypted notes stuffed into the victim’s pockets.

“Despite extensive work by our 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,” the FBI said in a press release today. CRRU chief Dan Olson added, “We are really good at what we do, but we could use some help with this one … Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea.”

The FBI has reached out to the public with code breaking brain teasers in the past–but they were games, not actual cases. This is the chance for want-to-be FBI sleuths to break their brains on code that is part of a current investigation.

The bureau isn’t offering any reward for assistance in solving the case at this time, but the FBI is asking people who believe they may have some insight into the notes write to the address below:

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

 

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