Illustrated Police News - Jack the Ripper.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More than 130 years have passed and the mystery that surrounds the figure of the mythical "Jack the Ripper" still continues. During all this time, different investigators sought to reveal the identity of this murderer who in 1888 killed and mutilated at least five prostitutes in London. Now, thanks to a groundbreaking DNA analysis, this question might have an answer.
According to the study published this week by the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the culprit of the brutal crimes was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had arrived at the British capital to dedicate himself to become a barber and who was on the list of suspects of the Metropolitan Police of London.
Kosminski has been linked to being Jack the Ripper in the past, and was one of the prime suspects, yet the police could never peg him without a doubt as the mythical murderer, even though they held him for two years.
So how was this conclusion finally reached?
Analyzing the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the spots of blood and semen that were found on a shawl that lay next to the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth murder victim.
According to the study conducted by scientists Jari Louhelainen and David Miller, this DNA is from the same group as that of a living relative of Kosminski. In addition, the semen would have belonged to a man with brown eyes and hair, a description that coincides with the suspect.
The Metropolitan Police of London investigated about 300 suspects, among them Kosminski.
Born in the Klodawa, Poland, he arrived in London in 1882 along with three brothers and settled down on Greenfield Street, less than 200 meters from the place where the decapitated body of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim, was found.
Kosminski, who was 23 years old at the time of the murders, was a schizophrenic, according to the researchers, and was admitted to a psychiatric center, where he died at the age of 53.
The new research published generated skepticism in the scientific community. Hansi Weissensteiner, a researcher at the Medical University of Innsbruck (Austria), said that the analysis of mitochondrial DNA can only be reliable to discard the relationship between two people and thus exclude a suspect, rather than identify the guilty person.
Among other points, the lack of evidence to support that this shawl was found specifically at the crime scene is also questioned. And, if so, it could have been contaminated by the different people who could have sabotaged it over the years.
In its defense, the authors of the study assure that the shawl - of silk and floral pattern - belonged to "Jack the Ripper" and not to its victim, a woman of poor resources.
The crimes took place in the London borough of Whitechapel. Between August 31 and November 9, 1888, the bodies of five prostitutes were found. The victims had similar characteristics: cuts in the throat, mutilation in the genitals and abdomen, and disfigurement of the face.
During the investigation, the police received at least three letters supposedly from the killer in which he mocked the agents' task and promised more crimes. One of the missives bore the signature of "Jack the Ripper," which is how he got his name.
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