Update: Jack the Ripper Finally ID’d?

Turns out, maybe not.

Last month the author of a new book entitled Naming Jack The Ripper said he had irrefutable evidence that the notorious serial killer who terrorized London in the late 1880s was a Polish émigré named Aaron Kosminski.

The author, Russell Edwards, went so far as to say that “only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt his contention.”

Doubt is exactly what’s surrounding Edwards’ claim, which has been called into question by a scathing follow-up report published this week by The Independent.

Edwards had enlisted the help of forensics expert Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University to analyze a bloodstained shawl that purportedly had been retrieved from the murder scene of Catherine Eddowes, one of Jack the Ripper’s victims.

Louhelainen reportedly extracted fragments of mitochondrial DNA from the fabric, later matching these with DNA taken from living descendants of both Eddowes and Kosminski. But The Independent says Louhelainen may have erred in the way he matched the DNA samples.

Hang on to your butts, this is pretty dense.

Louhelainen said the DNA from the shawl and from one of Eddowes’ descendants contained 314.1C, a mutation that is found in only 1 in 290,000 people in the general population. But several scientists who contributed to the Independent story claim that Louhelainen was wrong. The mutation wasn’t 314.1C, they said, but 315.1C, a mutation shared by more than 99 percent of people of European descent.

Obviously, if the match frequency is over 99 percent , and not 1/290,000, then there is little significance in the match between the shawl and Eddowes’ descendant. The same match would have been seen with almost anyone who had handled the shawl over the years.

And so the Jack the Ripper saga continues.

Jack the Ripper Finally ID’d?

A British businessman claims that he has ascertained the identity of 19th century serial murder Jack the Ripper using 126-year-old DNA extracted from blood found on the shawl of one of the victims.

In an article written for The Daily Mail, businessman and “armchair detective” Russell Edwards, claims the man responsible for the five 1888 murders in East London was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who fled the Russian pogroms to London in the early 1880s.

According to Russell, he acquired the blood-soaked shawl, believed to have been found next to the body of one of the Ripper’s victims (Catherine Eddowes), from David Melville-Hayes in 2007. Russell then  turned the shawl over to Dr. Jari Louhelainen, an expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.

Dr. Louhelainen was then able to extract 126-year-old DNA from both the victim and the supposed murderer from the material, which was then compared the DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, both proved to be a match.

Aaron Kosminski has long been considered a suspect by Jack the Ripper aficionados and historians, along with Prince Albert Victor (Edward VII’s son), Queen Victoria’s doctor, Sir William Gull, and painter Walter Sickert.

Kosminski was reportedly a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered auditory hallucinations and died in the Leavesden Asylum in 1918 at the age of 53.