A few days ago the Daily Mail UK published an article written by Russell Edwards. Mr. Edwards believes he has found the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.
The story is compelling. Mr. Edwards owns a shawl said to have been found on or near the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper's victims. One of the policeman who investigated the murder in 1888 took the shawl home to his wife and she immediately packed it away, unwashed.
The shawl was passed on from one generation to the next until 2007 when the current owner at that time decided to auction it off.
Edwards, a self-confessed amateur detective, bought the shawl and enlisted the help of Dr
Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence
from historical crime scenes. His credentials are top-notch in his field.
Dr Louhelainen was able to extract
126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from
descendants of Eddowes, resulting in a perfect match. Thus the shawl was proven to be Eddowes, which answered questions about its provenance.
DNA samples from what Dr. Loouhelainen believed to be semen on the shawl were then compared with a descendant of the sister of the prime suspect, again with a perfect
match as the result. Mr. Edwards believes this new DNA evidence proves conclusively that Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had fled to London with his family, escaping the Russian pogroms, in the early 1880s, was Jack the Ripper. Edwards' book Naming Jack the Ripper
will be published by Sidgwick & Jackson today, September 9th.
Some questions spring to mind - why did they not test descendants of all the suspects in case another match was found? How do they know that Mr. Kosminski's semen was found at the scene because he was a customer of Ms. Eddowes, rather than her murderer?
I will almost certainly purchase the book in hopes of reading more details of the analysis of the DNA sample. Although the shawl is not listed in the inventory of items found on Catherine Eddowes or in her room, I do not find that too unusual. I suspect the police officer who supposedly asked permission to keep the shawl, may have taken it home with him before the inventory was taken - with or without permission of his superiors. What did intrigue me was the listing of a skirt patterned with Michaelmas daisies. The same design of Michaelmas daisies occurs on the shawl.
Continue reading full details at WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain's most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders