New groundbreaking DNA evidence claims to prove who infamous killer Jack the Ripper really was
Scientists have claimed to have proven the identity of infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper with new DNA evidence.
Polish barber Aaron Kosminski has been named as the notorious murderer who brutally killed and mutilated a number of women in Whitechapel, London in the 19th century.
The claims come from researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, who found both Kosminski's DNA and that of one of his alleged victims, Catherine Eddowes, on a shawl belonging to her.
The tests compared fragments of mitochondrial DNA—the portion of DNA inherited only from one’s mother—retrieved from the shawl with samples taken from living descendants of Eddowes and Kosminski, with researchers claiming the DNA matches that of a living relative of Kosminki.
In the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the scientists behind the investigation stated the shawl "enhances the statistical probability of its overall identification".
"We describe for the first time systematic, molecular level analysis of the only surviving physical evidence linked to the Jack the Ripper murders," they wrote. "Finding both matching profiles in the same piece of evidence enhances the statistical probability of its overall identification and reinforces the claim that the shawl is authentic."
Experts were able to take DNA tests from the shawl after they were contacted by the owner of the historical item, author Russell Edwards. The 48-year-old bought the item of clothing, which was found next to Eddowes' body and stained with her blood, at an auction in 2007.
However, the new findings have been placed under scrutiny, with critics arguing that key details on the specific genetic variants identified and compared between DNA samples are allegedly not included in the paper.
In addition, according to Science Mag, Hansi Weissensteiner, an expert in mitochondrial DNA at Innsbruck Medical University in Austria, takes issue with the mitochondrial DNA analysis, which he says can only reliably show that people—or two DNA samples—are not related.
Other critics of the Kosminsky theory have asserted that there’s no evidence the shawl was ever at the crime scene, adding that it could have also become contaminated over the years.
It's not the first time Kosminski, who was 23 at the time of the killings, has been suggested to be Jack the Ripper; the Polish hairdresser was a prime suspect at the time, but not enough evidence was found to incriminate him. From 1891, he was institutionalised in an insane asylum and he died at age 53 in 1919.
His links to the crime were scrutinised in 2014 when Dr Jari Louhelainen, one of the authors in this week's paper, studied the same shawl. However, these claims were shunned by other scientists who said made he made an "error of nomenclature" in his analysis.
Eddowes was slaughtered by Jack the Ripper on the night of September 30, 1888, in Mitre Square, Whitechapel, where her kidney was hacked out and her cheeks ripped apart. The killer is rumoured to have eaten her kidney afterwards.
The 46-year-old prostitute was the second person killed in the early hours of Sunday 30 September 1888, with the murder of fellow prostitute Elizabeth Stride less than an hour earlier.
Five victims overall —Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly — are said to have been murdered by the same man between 31 August and 9 November 1888. However, the Whitechapel Murders file, which covers the Ripper's killing spree, includes eleven murders, covering a period from 1888 to 1891.