For three hot June days in 1999, no one cared about Ricky McCormick. There were no frantic calls to the police, no missing person reports, no mothers or widows appealing to the local news for information. No one seemed to care that the 41-year-old was missing, let alone worried that he might be dead. He was missing and no one noticed—and then he was found in an abandoned cornfield in St. Charles County, Missouri. By the time police found him, his body was so badly decomposed that his fingertips had fallen off.

Police immediately suspected foul play: The field was a popular place to dump bodies. And a post-murder disposal seemed the only logical explanation for how McCormick could have ended up in a cornfield nearly 20 miles from his home—he couldn’t drive and buses don’t run to empty cornfields. But there were other reasons, too. In 1993, he served 11 months in prison for a felony conviction of first-degree sexual abuse; more recently, he’d had ties to a local drug ring. With his spotty history, police reasoned, somebody must have wanted to kill him.

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