Author claims to have discovered Jack the Ripper’s identity using 126-year-old DNA
On the eve of the release of his book Naming Jack The Ripper, a British businessman claims that he has ascertained the real name of 19th century serial murder Jack the Ripper using 126-year-old DNA extracted from blood found on the shawl of one of his victims.
In an article written for The Daily Mail, businessman and “armchair detective” Russell Edwards, 48, claims the man responsible for the five murders in East London in 1888 was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had 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. Russell states that the shawl was originally given to Acting Sergeant Amos by his superiors to give to his wife, a dressmaker. According to the author it was stashed away without ever being washed, before being handed down to Melville-Hayes’ great-grandmother, Mary Simpson, then to his grandmother, Eliza Smith, and then once again to his mother, Eliza Mills.
In 1991, Melville-Hayes loaned the shawl to to Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum, where it was stored rather than being placed on display because of questions of provenance.
In 2001, Melville-Hayes reclaimed the shawl and exhibited it at the annual Jack the Ripper conference in London.
In 2007, Russell, fascinated by the Ripper story after viewing the Johnny Depp film, From Hell , acquired the shawl from Melville-Hayes at auction and turned it over to Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.
Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from both the victim and the supposed murderer from the material, which he then compared the DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.
Russell and Louhelainen had been able to track down a British descendant of Kosminski’s sister, Matilda, who shared his mitochondrial DNA with the sleuths.
According to Russell, Louhelainen was able to achieve a 99.2 percent match on the first strand of DNA from Kosminski, before achieving a perfect 100 percent match on the second strand tested.
Aaron Kosminski has long been considered a suspect by Jack the Ripper aficionados and historians, along with Edward VII’s son – Prince Albert Victor, Queen Victoria’s doctor – Sir William Gull, and painter Walter Sickert.
Russell states that Kosminski — reportedly a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered auditory hallucinations — died in Leavesden Asylum at the age of 53, thirty years after the grisly murders that rocked London.
[Image Illustrated London News for October 13, 1888 in public domain]