The brutal serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA as a Jewish barber who immigrated to London from Poland, but many experts question the DNA claim while acknowledging that the murderer probably was Jew from Poland.
Businessman Russell Edwards, an amateur Jack the Ripper sleuth, and molecular biologist Dr. Jari Louhelainen, of Liverpool John Moores University, made the discovery through DNA traces found on a shawl recovered from one of the crime scenes that allegedly belonged to one of his victims.
The discovery is announced in a book by Edwards that is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, the Daily Mail first reported on Sunday.
Edwards identifies the killer as Aaron Kosminski, who would have been age 23 at the time of the murders.
Kosminski came to England in 1881 with his family. He reportedly lived near the scenes of the murders, was taken in by police as a witness at the time of the murders and was later released. He died in an insane asylum in 1919.
The serial killer nicknamed Jack the Ripper is accused of killing five women over about three months in the fall of 1888 in and near the Whitechapel district of London. The victims’ throats were cut and their bodies mutilated.
Edwards bought the shawl, which allegedly came from the murder scene of the killer’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes and still contained bloodstains, at an auction in 2007. Louhelainen was able to find blood that matched the victim, and other body fluids which ultimately were linked to Kosminski.
Scientists and scholars questioned whether Edwards and Louhelainen’s evidence on the shawl can support positive identification/
“The shawl has been openly handled by loads of people and been touched, breathed on, spat upon,” Richard Cobb, who runs Jack the Ripper conventions and tours, told The Times of London. “My DNA is probably on there. What’s more, Kosminski is likely to have frequented prostitutes in the East End of London. If I examined that shawl, I’d probably find links to 150 other men from the area.”
Sir Alec Jeffreys, who invented the technique of DNA fingerprinting, told the Independent that despite the lack of convincing evidence, his recollection of a visit to the Black Museum at New Scotland yard led him to believe that “Kosminski was long regarded as by far the most likely perpetrator.”