Has Jack the Ripper been unmasked?

By Petro-Anne Vlok
09 September 2014

For over a century the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who plagued London in 1888, has remained a mystery, but now a new book claims to have unmasked the killer’s true identity using DNA analysis.

For over a century the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who plagued London in 1888, has remained a mystery, but now a new book claims to have unmasked the killer’s true identity using DNA analysis.

The book, Naming Jack the Ripper, comes out today and claims that the infamous serial killer was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who worked as a hairdresser. In 1888 Jack the Ripper terrorised the Whitechapel district in London, killing five women by slitting their throats. He also removed their organs.

Kosminski was a suspect at the times of the murders, but a lack of evidence meant he was never charged. Kosminski, who was 23 at the time of the murders, was later committed to an insane asylum and died of gangrene aged 53.

The breakthrough in the case came when historic DNA expert Dr Jari Louhelainen extracted 126-year-old DNA from the shawl that was found with Catherine Eddowes, the Ripper’s second victim. The book’s author, Russell Edwards, obtained the shawl and gave it to Louhelainen, who successfully matched the extracted DNA with descendants of Kosminski.

'It has taken a great deal of hard work, using cutting-edge scientific techniques'

“It has taken a great deal of hard work, using cutting-edge scientific techniques which would not have been possible five years ago,” Louhelainen told a UK newspaper. “Once I had the profile, I could compare it to that of the female descendant of Kosminski’s sister, who had given us a sample of her DNA swabbed from inside her mouth.”

Edwards, a businessman who describes himself as an “armchair detective”, became interested in the Jack the Ripper after watching From Hell, a 2001 movie about Jack the Ripper, starring Johnny Depp.

Sources: metro.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, independent.co.uk, mashable.com

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