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FBI seeks public's help cracking cryptic notes in 1999 murder victim's pocket

FBI seeks public's help to crack killer's cryptic code in 1999's unsolved murder of Ricky McCormick
FBI released two notes found in a murder victim's pocket almost 11 years ago CBS/KOVR

(CBS/KOVR) SACRAMENTO, Calif. - You might be able to help catch a killer.

The FBI has released two encrypted notes found in the pocket of a murder victim killed more than a decade ago after the agency's cipher unit hit a wall while trying to decode them.

Ricky McCormick, 41, was found dead in a field near St. Louis, Missouri on June 30, 1999. Deputies found little evidence at the scene and believe he was murdered somewhere else and dumped into the field.

According to CBS affiliate KOVR, the only clues investigators found were a pair of notes in his jeans, consisting entirely of handwritten capital letters, numbers, dashes and parentheses.

The victim, a high school dropout, had apparently been using coded notes since he was a child but family members were never told how to read them. Investigators hope the decoded notes will provide clues to his whereabouts immediately before his death.

KOVR reports that the FBI's Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit released the codes in hopes that the public can help crack the case.

When the Zodiac Killer taunted law enforcement and reporters with a series of encrypted notes in 1969, a husband and wife in Salinas, Calif. successfully deciphered the message.

High resolution versions of the notes can be downloaded from the FBI's website.

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