Talk:Ricky McCormick's encrypted notes

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treasure hunt[edit]

I've removed a bunch of crap, mostly from IPs, and added a comment to try to prevent others from adding their personal findings. If you have anything interesting that comes from a reliable source, then feel free to add it. pm (talk) 05:57, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Is there any analysis data published like letter frequencies? To me it seems the "SE" is extremely frequent. I had some association this might be 'braille shorthand' where the first and last letters of words are used. (And certain combinations ALWAYS mean the same word.) Would be nice to know WHAT methods thger FBI experts have tried and what their analysis of the material yielded..--OliverGassner (talk) 10:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Another frequently used letter sequence is "NCBE", so it seems to me that he's substituting word or sequences by other sequences, so this is no ENIGMA style encryption where the exchange table changes after each typed letter —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

I've started some basic analysis (letter frequency and comparison to English, word frequency), and done a quick post about it here: I've also put my code in a Github repository: I added the link yesterday, but someone removed it. I understand that I'm not a necessarily reputable source, and there may be errors in the transcription, but I thought it is a good start. I'm collecting transcripts / theories from others around the web currently and it's all going in the Github repository. My new code is not quite polished enough to add to the repository yet, but I'll be pushing it there soon. I thought it would be good to share, hopefully we can get some insight on this collectively.

If others agree, can we share the links? (There's no adverts, I'm just curious about this and would like to share my efforts) Double122 (talk) 17:47, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

This talkpage should only be used to discuss improvements to the Wikipedia article, not as a forum for solving the mystery. I'm sure there are more appropriate places to post your work, and you are by all means welcome to add to the article from appropriately reliable sources. Acroterion (talk) 17:59, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

I've created a page with the same name on the Wikia Cryptography site to allow discussion of the notes by those who wish. I included the attempted transcription that was removed from here as original research. The page is at --agr (talk) 23:12, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

The discussion forum on reddit confuses me, therefore I'm posting my idea here. To me the three lines in exclamation marks (at the end of note 1) remind me of either mathematical, even more chemical formulas. Purplenutshell (talk) 15:39, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia isn't a good place for general discussion of the topic: comments should be confined to improvements to the Wikipedia article, as Wikipedia isn't a discussion forum. Acroterion (talk) 15:42, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

larger resolution of images[edit]

Could you upload the larger images from: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:09, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestion. They have been uploaded and should be available by clicking on the article's images.--agr (talk) 17:01, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Who is Ricky McCormick?[edit]

Reader asked "NEED MORE details about his life. Did he own a house? Normal hangouts? Details of the murder, etc." We have included all the details that were in the FBI press release. If you have any other reliable sources of information that would add these details, please let us know or add them yourself.--agr (talk) 16:40, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Useful article: Mike74 (talk) 03:10, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Note text accurate?[edit]

I can't see any reference to a page that says what the text under "Note 1 & 2 text" says. Many letters are not clearly identifiable, e.g. the first and second letter in the second word of the first note. The "n" could be an "m", the "x" could be a "k". (talk) 21:01, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Was Ricky McCormick a fluent writer?[edit]

To me it seems as if the code is a combination of a cypher and the attempts of someone with a spelling disability to write. Many people who have done manual labor all their life and written little devleop these types of own writing skills after they forget how to properly spell words. So it's not a mathematical code to crack, but more a linguistic and sociological approach. How did McCormick pronounce the words? Were there words he used frequently when talking (e.g. like, awesome, bogus etc.) which could be found in the code? There are many open questions about McCormick himself: - what did he work? - did he only write in code or did he write some "secret" stuff in code, but was able to write perfect letters etc. besides that? - are there other samples of his code other than these two fragments? What about his place, might there have been a book or something which would be the key to understand his cypher?

The number 99.84.52 is very peculiar. Looks like some type of measurement (like the size of an shelf if inches) or coordinates (latitude?). There are also syllables which do not fit the pattern of the set of other syllables and could refer to concrete names or places: KENOSO, SPRK, AOK and UTKE. XL seems to be a person, as he refers to XL'R (XL's)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Malaidoskop (talkcontribs) 23:12, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

In article this part is rather unnessesary: 'Ricky McCormick was a high school dropout, but was able to read and write and was said to be "street smart"', cause everyone who does reach high school is able to read and write. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:07, 9 April 2011 (UTC)


There is an article on the old McCormick case on St Louis Today Article, Ricky McCormick Homicide, 1999

--Malaidoskop (talk) 23:00, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Wrong, on the FBI site it says that he has used encrypted codes since his childhood. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Discussion locations[edit]

I agree with comments above that this page should be used only for improvement of the article, and not for general discussion of the ciphers themselves. For anyone who does wish to discuss the ciphers, two good locations are:

--Elonka 16:53, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Title change[edit]

I'd like to move this article to a different title, since "Ricky McCormick murder notes", though a good descriptor, really isn't how they are being referred to in the press. More common titles (in my order of preference) might be:

  1. Ricky McCormick's encrypted notes
  2. Ricky McCormick encrypted notes
  3. Ricky McCormick Case
  4. McCormick notes
  5. McCormick ciphers

Anyone else have an opinion? --Elonka 15:55, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Also, "Murder notes" imply they are actually connected to the murder, but that's just a theory, isn't it?-- (talk) 16:41, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Since there appear to be no objections, if no one else gets to it, I'll probably move this article to Ricky McCormick's encrypted notes tomorrow. --Elonka 05:04, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be more in consistent with the handling of other criminal cases just to have an article on the murder case ("Ricky McCormick murder case"), wherein the notes are discussed? (See e.g. this wikipedia search on "murder case".)-- (talk) 15:29, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I went ahead and moved the article to Ricky McCormick's encrypted notes for now. If there is later consensus on a different title, we can move again if necessary. As for whether to title the article on the notes or the murder, the majority of sources seem to be focusing on the notes, much more so than the victim himself. --Elonka 05:40, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the purpose of the rename, but the notes aren't encrypted. A linguist would have better luck analyzing them, not a cryptologist. Did the FBI call them encrypted? (talk) 04:10, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
"Cryptic" instead of "encrypted"?-- (talk) 09:09, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm more inclined to just Ricky McCormick notes. The nature of the notes are unknown, putting 'encrypted' on the title is presuming that it's encrypted when it might not be.--ObsidinSoul 10:32, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Leading Public Theory: not a code at all[edit]

The most popular public theory thus far (per ranking of Yahoo's 6500 responses): not a code, as described, but a medical log. I request that this theory be left in this discussion for one week, because the right psychiatrist may be able to solve this murder and that should count for something more than wiki-sensibilities.

This can and will be proven by checking with local doctors especially because one doctor was the last to see him alive. It is a shorthand log of historic episodes in the mid seventies on (page 1, actually written second, but numbered one to keep events in chrono order) and medications taken with the effects listed. The key at the end of page 2 is day week month year morning day latenight as a list of things to track on page 1. It was started on page 2 and then page 1 was added as a log of the earlier childhood which is the basis for diagnosis and the "page 2" is indepth records of changes in meds. The 3 month periods are normal with bipolar episodes in the 4th QTR (September through December) in the seventies. These seasons suggest seasonal disorder. No other suggested theory is possible, because he has been keeping these for logs for years.

Possible interpretations follow:

ALPNTE GLSE-SE ERTE A: Latenight, Phenergan, taken in evening G: Latenight Serenace/Seroquel or Seroquel/Serenace Extended Release Taken Evening VLSE MTSE-CTSE-WSE-FRTSE V: Late Serenace Morning take Serenace On page 1 are lists of manic episodes (FLRSEPRSEONDE71NCBE) From late september really severe episode on December 1971: No cause before episode (CDNSEPRSEONSF/DE74NCBE) Chronic Depression in September, really severe episode on the start of December in 1974, no cause before episode 26MLSE74SPRKSE29KENOSOLE173R7RSE 2x 6mg Serenace in 1974 or 2x 600mg Seroquel in 1974 99-84.B2UNEPLSENCRSEAOLTSENSKSENRSE 1999 through 1988 NSREOUSEPUTSEWLDUCBE(3XORL) (3 times orally) D-W-M-Y MDL XDRLX Day weekday month year: morning day or latenight

John Bingham —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:29, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Factual error[edit]

I'm pondering the best way to handle an obvious error that is in the reliable sources. Some seem to be repeating a number of "30 miles", in terms of the distance that McCormick's body was found from his address at the time. However, I live in St. Louis, and this distance is not correct, as can be pretty easily calculated by looking at a map, or using Google Earth. His last known address was 1400 Chouteau, which is an apartment complex in downtown St. Louis. His body was found off of highway 367 in northern St. Charles County. Route 367 is a short stretch, about 7 miles long. I'm not sure exactly which cornfield that McCormick was found in, but even assuming the northernmost one, we're looking at a distance of about 15 miles from downtown St. Louis, as the crow flies. Mapquest says that to drive it is about 18 miles (approximate, because it's not clear which cornfield, but even assuming the northernmost one at the county line, it's difficult to stretch the distance to even 20 miles). Definitely not 30 miles, unless you were going considerably out of your way. I am hesitant to change the number though, since it would definitely be original research and would be contradicting the existing sources. Perhaps we should change it to "many miles" or "several miles"? What do other editors think? It's not a huge deal, but it does kind of bug me every time I see a new source use the same incorrect distance. --Elonka 05:41, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

You might like to use Neil Tweedie (7 April 2011). "Calling all codebreakers..." Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-04-07.  This reliable source states "15 miles". Hyperdoctor Phrogghrus (talk) 20:49, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! --Elonka 05:31, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Day before April Fools day[edit]

Do we even know that the murdered person is real? So far I have found two clear misidentifications and not a single link to contemporaneous report of the event.

I'd assume that any type of frequency analysis should fail if these notes have been actually worked over by FBI. Or they are even more incompetent than depicted in films.

On the other hand, I have not seen anyone to put any significance to formatting/punctuation of the two pages. There are similarities between the two pages but they are also wildly different. One has five groups of text enclosed by line and couple of sequences of letters in parenthesis. The other has no text enclosed in groups, but many sequences of characters within parenthesis, some of which have remarkably similar character sequences.

JxJ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:44, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Unverified: Family on McCormick's notes[edit]

Added a "not in citation given" note to the statement "According to members of McCormick's family, McCormick had used encrypted notes since he was a boy, but apparently no one in his family knows how to decipher the codes, either." To clarify: the citation is to a Yahoo! News article that is no longer there; however, versions of the story available via the Internet Archive (*/ do not support that statement. Chuck (talk) 23:41, 17 December 2013 (UTC)