126 year old DNA evidence unmasks the identity of Jack the Ripper
A fascinating story published in The Telegraph today reveals the true identity of Jack the Ripper. DNA evidence from a shawl worn by one of the victims proves beyond a reasonable doubt who the notorious killer was. The shawl contained DNA from both the victim and the attacker and was matched to descendants of both. The scientist who extracted the DNA from the shawl discovered traces of semen from the attacker while blood evidence was used for DNA from the victim.
And the winner is: Aaron Kosminski, one of the original six suspects Scotland Yard liked for the murders. Kosminski was a Polish immigrant - a pathetic loser who was insane. He ended up in an asylum and died at age 53.
Case closed? Read on.
DNA evidence has now shown beyond reasonable doubt which one of six key suspects commonly cited in connection with the Ripper’s reign of terror was the actual killer – and we reveal his identity.
A shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.
The landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.
Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.
The revelation puts an end to the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity which has lasted since his murderous rampage in the most impoverished and dangerous streets of London.
In the intervening century, a Jack the Ripper industry has grown up, prompting a dizzying array of more than 100 suspects, including Queen Victoria’s grandson – Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence – the post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert, and the former Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone.
The DNA was too degraded to process normally. Instead, the scientist used an innovative method to extract mitochondrial DNA from the shawl. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down to the next generations via only the mother. It is widely accepted as evidence in court cases.
But is it really evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt"? A good defense attorney would challenge the notion that the only way the semen could have gotten on the shawl would be because Kosminski murdered Katherine Eddowes. But Eddowes was a prostitute and the defense may have been able to instill reasonable doubt in a jury by positing the notion that Kosminski was a customer, not the Ripper.
We'll never know. Meanwhile, I doubt this new evidence will tamp down the Ripper industry. Everyone has their favorite book or film about the Ripper - mine is Johnny Depp's "From Hell" where he plays a detective from a working class background, addicted to absinthe, who solves the crime by hallucinating about the crime. In working the Ripper case, he comes up against an upper class detective and doctor who seek to hide the truth from him. Freemasonry, royalty, and class all combine for a very entertaining story.
Depp's film presented a novel reason for the killings and who did it that I won't spoil if you haven't seen it.
No doubt the search for the Ripper will continue in many circles as there will be legions of Ripper devotees who will not accept these findings.