Code Dead: Do the encrypted writings of Ricky McCormick hold the key to his mysterious death?

McCormick may have been regarded as something of a simpleton who, despite some street smarts and his criminal record, was generally naïve to the world. The same cannot be said for the men who ran the Amoco gas station at 1401 Chouteau Avenue south of downtown St. Louis where he worked.

Fawaz M. Hamdan, the original owner of the business, killed his neighbor with a butcher knife during a front-yard argument in May 1994. He later died in Missouri's Potosi Correctional Center while serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.

Juma Hamdallah, a Palestinian immigrant who until 2002 used the name David Radigan, took over as president of the business. Juma employed his brother Baha "Bob" Hamdallah. Despite their familial ties, the two have had a rocky relationship. In August 1999, less than two months after McCormick's death, police from Maryland Heights investigated an incident in which Juma allegedly shot Baha. Baha Hamdallah survived and filed no charges, but, according to police records, detectives looking into the shooting gathered information allegedly linking Baha "to black gang members in St. Louis City and narcotics use" and noted "Baha is reported to be violent and in possession of several weapons which include handguns and knives."

Indeed, among the Hamdallah brothers (another, Jameil Hamdallah, is a registered sex offender), Baha appears to be the most volatile. Police reports and witness statements spanning several years illustrate repeated episodes of violence that seemed to accompany him wherever he went.

Shortly after moving to St. Louis in 1997 from Cleveland, Ohio, then 22-year-old Baha Hamdallah was cruising the streets of St. Louis in a blue Mazda Protegé when a police detective saw him pull up alongside a man named Tarrence Clark, lean out his car window and fire a shot at him with a .38-caliber revolver, according to the police report of the incident and witness statements. Clark escaped unharmed. Baha was arrested but never prosecuted.

Nine months later, on the evening of March 4, 1998, Baha Hamdallah was visiting one of his older brothers, Bahjat Hamdallah, at his job at the Family Market, a small corner grocery store in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. They got into an argument, and Baha allegedly grabbed a gun and opened fire on Bahjat from across the street. A bullet tore into the left side of Bahjat's abdomen and knocked him to the ground. Baha jumped into his car and sped off.

The eyewitness reports, including that of the manager who knew Baha from frequent visits to the store, were consistent in the police report. But a bloodied Bahjat, either out of fear or a remaining shred of fraternal loyalty, told police he had never seen his assailant before and described him as a goateed Hispanic man rather than his five-foot-ten, 225-pound Middle Eastern brother.

Six days later Baha Hamdallah turned himself in and was arrested on a felony charge of first-degree assault, but Bahjat told police he did not wish to prosecute. State court files show no record of the case.

Later the same month, while working at the family's Amoco station, Baha Hamdallah was arrested again, this time on a felony charge of second-degree assault, for allegedly beating a man named Elroe Carr with a rusty hammer. Baha allegedly threatened to kill Carr, described by family and acquaintances as a sometimes-homeless drug addict, if he didn't get off the property. Baha told police, "I just figured I'd take care of this myself," according to the incident report.

On August 7, 1998, two weeks before Carr's case against Baha Hamdallah was slated to go to court, Carr was gunned down just blocks from the Amoco station on a residential street in the neighboring housing project. The pending assault charges against Baha died that night with Carr.

Carr's murder remains unsolved, and police made no arrests. But confidential informants told police Carr was killed "at the behest of Baha Hamdallah," according to St. Louis police reports obtained through a public-records request.

There would be more violence to come.


Minutes before sunrise on June 15, 1999, about two weeks before his death, Ricky McCormick walked up to the counter at the Greyhound bus terminal downtown and purchased a one-way ticket to Orlando. It would turn out to be the last of at least two brief trips to Florida he made that year.

It's not clear whom McCormick met during his stay in Room 280 at the Econo Lodge in Orlando. But phone records show he or his girlfriend, Sandra Jones, made a flurry of calls to several people in central Florida a couple of weeks ahead of his arrival. Jones and McCormick exchanged a similar barrage of short phone calls during the two days McCormick spent in Orlando, and he made at least one call to the St. Louis gas station where he worked.

Jones would later tell police she suspected McCormick went to Florida to pick up marijuana. According to a sheriff's department investigative report, Jones' explanation went like this:

McCormick would accept offers to pick up and deliver packages for money. He made trips to Florida before and on several occasions brought marijuana into the apartment he shared with Jones in the Clinton-Peabody housing project south of downtown. The drugs would usually be sealed in zip-lock bags rolled together into bundles the size of baseballs. McCormick told Jones he was holding the stashes of weed for Baha Hamdallah, the police report states.

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21 comments
HonestABE
HonestABE

He was possibly held prior to his death.  There are actually more than one encryption.  It's based on two different types of encryption.  And there appears to be directions.  Have fun.

jdpinkninja
jdpinkninja

It looks like he was sounding out words. Some of the words has to many letters.

dan.schlueter.1.1.2.
dan.schlueter.1.1.2.

I just wanted to say that this was an incredibly well researched and well written article.  I read articles every day that are just trash with nothing to say and poorly written at that.  You sir, give me hope.

Richard1980
Richard1980

I've been thinking about where RM's body was found. The location was 20+ miles from his residence and the hospital where he was last seen five days earlier. After poking around on the map a bit, I got the idea that the casino might be the reason. In 1999, the Alton Belle was docked in Alton, IL, about 4 miles from the site of RM's body. Also during that time, the Casino Queen was in operation in East St. Louis only three miles from Chouteau Ave. (Coincidentally, the Mayfair Hotel where Maury Travis was employed 2000-2001 is practically within walking distance of Chouteau.)  http://bleacherreport.com/users/1493055-buy-green-coffee-bean-extract-online http://bleacherreport.com/users/1419367-food-lovers-fat-loss-system http://bleacherreport.com/users/1416296-buy-cigarettes-online-with-free-shipping

JustARedditor
JustARedditor

It is just a key for an encrypted ebook. Notice the (ACSM). He most likely wrote it down after buying the book to put it on another computer. When you start to download an Adobe PDF a small file with the extension .acsm is first downloaded. This is used by Adobe Digital Editions to send the activation ID to the delivery server which will use that ID to generate an encrypted PDF/ePub eBook, which is then downloaded to your PC. Write the code in a file and save it as 'foo.acsm' Login to the dead guys account and download his encrypted adobe ebook. Case solved!

irony free
irony free

Schizophrenic is the answer. Only Ricky knows.

Burris Travis
Burris Travis

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Scott19674
Scott19674

I made it to the part where he had knocked up a child, then dredged Givafuck Bay unsuccessfully to muster up the energy to read about his unjust end.

Burris Travis
Burris Travis

A buddy's mother makes $65 every hour on the computer. She has been without a job for seven months but last month her payment was $14505 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site lazycash42.c()m

MandoMadMan
MandoMadMan

Perhaps he didn't write the notes and perhaps they are not based on the English language. I'm sure they've looked into that? Maybe he was keeping them as a bargaining chip or insurance? Didn't work as it turned out.

sherlock holmes
sherlock holmes

okay i got it figured out. the note was not actually written by mc cormick . it was written by his drug dealer and it says: "this mother funking n word shoulda paid his funk ing drug debt. man don't play me for no f-ing b!tch cause you end up face down ina vacant lot wit maggots crawing all up in n out your orifices like dis scroungy @ss b!tch". well, that's what it says word for word and so i hope that puts this matter to rest.

Gilbert
Gilbert

my neighbor's sister-in-law made $12565 the prior week. she makes money on the internet and moved in a $438800 house. All she did was get fortunate and use the tips revealed on this web site lazycash42.c()m

steve allen winkelmann
steve allen winkelmann

I worked with schizos for decades as an RN in mental health facilities and on the med floors. I guartentee you , you will never decipher the writings. I had pages of writing by schizos. I would ask them what they were saying in the jibberish writings and they would tell me. Days later, the same writings would have a different meaning when I would ask the same question.

srv
srv

what i love is how the police do not tell his family anything and that the middle eastern gun toting drug lords go free. what fools we are to have any hope that our st. louis police force is not corrupt.

Ricky Hollywood
Ricky Hollywood

I think I've solved it. It says: l;kasdlk;jaflkjsdajklf poop poop poop al;kjdalk;akl;sad alkjdl;kaljk;dfa peepee akl;jdasl;ka

Gentry June
Gentry June

what George replied I'm amazed that anyone able to earn $5349 in one month on the internet. did you see this site lazycash42.c()m

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

.... and the idea that they gotta use a state of the art ibm computer to figure out a mysterious code written by some bum who could barely write his own name is preposterous.

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

i agree with the people who knew him best . he didn't write no code that could fool all these fbi and german enigma code experts when he could barely sign his own name. or if he did write these scribblings he probably couldn't tell you what it said five minutes after he wrote it. i recall reading another story similar to this where some guy had supposedly written some mysterious code and by lucky chance the experts stumbled onto the logical explanation and proof that he never wrote diddly. however, i can't recall the details but there was no one able to find a complex solution cause there was simply nothing to solve. i believe this mystery mostly likely has an obvious solution to someone more closely familiar with his lifestyle.

Jose Galofre Manero
Jose Galofre Manero

Hello from Spain. - The master key to understanding Mccormick´s notes should be sought in the last line of the 2nd note the signature of the deceased. - I saw that certain letters were repeated as in the word "Mccormick" and i remembered the joke of Arthur C. Clarrke in the movie "2001" (IBM= HAL 9000) - And this is my solution: "O-W-m-4 H8L XORLX" = "OWN-FOR I AM MCCORM(i)CK" because ... + O=O, W=W and R=R + m=N, H=I and L=M by use Caesar code B or +1 + 4= four= for by phonetic solution + 8= eight= eit= ei= letter A by phonetic solution + X= Variations of the letter "c" (MC, C and CK) by shorthand use. + The hyphen join the letters in a word. + Vowel "i" by usual solution in shorthand transcription - If you think 4 is not 4 but "Y" and 8 is not 8 but "I" then the solution is: +"Y"= wai= WHY or WAY by phonetic solution, similar sound. +"I"= ai= letter A by phonetic solution, graphic representation of a sound. "O-W-m-Y HIL XORLX" means "OWN-WHY? I AM MCCORMICK" -This is the master key and means the note ia a last will or testament. -The plaintext not exist -Only exist a stenographyc text that was hidden with a personal shorthand system with some measures of deception.It is a children´s game, literally .... -Finally, in Marais Temps Clair C.A. (mo) there is a suitcase buried by Mccormick with money ($99.840) and more, after the central curve in a bird watching position. - Good luck. (Search the house 35 next to northern entrance to Marais ...) bye.

 
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