Researchers say they have finally unmasked Jack the Ripper thanks to DNA testing.
The infamous serial killer, who terrorized London in the late 1800s, has been identified as Aaron Kosminski. The 23-year-old Polish barber was the prime suspect at the time. He was named as a suspect over 100 years ago and once again in a 2014 book by UK author Russell Edwards. But now Edwards’ DNA evidence has been published in the peer-reviewed publication Journal of Forensic Sciences.
“To our knowledge, this is the most advanced study to date regarding this case”, the study authors wrote.
Jack the Ripper is believed to have killed at least five women in the Whitechapel area of London, England, between August and November 1888. The victims were all poor, working-class women whose throats were cut. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to the theory that their killer had some anatomical or surgical knowledge. The case was the first to create a worldwide media frenzy and a huge manhunt ensued involving hundreds of police officers.
Researchers Jari Louhelainen and David Miller ran DNA tests on a silk shawl stained with blood and semen that investigators say was found next to the body of the killer’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. Fragments of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from one’s mother, was compared to samples from living relatives of Eddowes and Kosminski. A match was found with one of Kosminski’s relatives.
The in-depth study also includes an analysis of Jack the Ripper’s appearance, which suggests he had brown hair and brown eyes.
The shawl was apparently given to Louhelainen by Edwards, who bought it at an auction in 2007. As such, the study’s findings may not satisfy other Ripper experts who say the shawl may have been contaminated over the years.
“I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case”, Edwards told the Guardian newspaper in 2014. “I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was.”
Whether or not Aaron Kosminski is the notorious serial killer, one thing’s for sure: interest in the mystery will continue. As will the speculation.
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