From 1999: Body found in field puzzles police

1999-07-02T17:09:00Z 2012-12-18T17:47:49Z From 1999: Body found in field puzzles policeBY SHANE ANTHONY • santhony@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7209 stltoday.com

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • Authorities know the identity of a man found dead near West Alton on Wednesday afternoon, but they have a lot of unanswered questions.

The body of Ricky McCormick, 41, who had addresses in St. Louis, Belleville and Fairview Heights, was found near a cornfield by a woman driving along a field road near Highway 367. But how McCormick died and ended up where he did is still a mystery.

Maj. Tom O'Connor of the Major Case Squad said authorities were treating the suspicious death as if it were a homicide. A medical examiner has not been able to determine an exact cause of death yet. An initial medical examination found no obvious gunshot or knife wounds, he said.

McCormick, who was identified by his fingerprints, suffered from chronic heart and lung problems, O'Connor said, and authorities have not ruled out the possibility that his health may have contributed to his death.

His body was found in an open area by the southeast corner of the cornfield between the field road and a densely foliated levee, which is an old railroad grade along the southbound side of Highway 367.

Lt. Craig McGuire, of the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, said the levee is an unfinished section of the Katy Trail.

Authorities reported Wednesday that McCormick appeared to have suffered an injury to his head. But O'Connor said Thursday that McCormick's body had decomposed enough that it was difficult to determine what injuries he might have had.

McCormick had a St. Louis address, 1400 Chouteau Avenue, and several addresses in Illinois, O'Connor said. McCormick was not married, he said, but he was the father of at least four children. Police are working with McCormick's friends and family members to establish his whereabouts during the past few days.

He was last seen alive late in the afternoon of June 25 at Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis, the former Deaconess Hospital, where he was receiving medication from his doctor, O'Connor said. No one had reported him missing, he said.

McCormick had a criminal record, but O'Connor and St. Charles County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Wilson said they do not believe it contributed to his death.

Authorities said he had a criminal record and was convicted on a charge of statutory rape. He was sentenced to three years but served 11 months, they said.

Wilson said McCormick was unemployed and on disability welfare; he was not homeless.

O'Connor said authorities found no evidence of fights or disagreements McCormick might have had.

"We cannot find any motive for his death, " he said. "We're not absolutely sure that this is a homicide."

Authorities were concentrating on a thorough search of the Alton area Thursday afternoon, he said.

Anyone with information about McCormick's whereabouts between the afternoons of June 25-30 should call the Major Case Squad at 949-7900, Ext. 7501 or Ext. 7502.

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