It has spawned its own walking tour, and countless references in works of fiction throughout the years, but it now looks as if the mystery surrounding the identity of  “Jack the Ripper” has been solved.

For those unaware of the extent of Jack the Ripper’s crimes, the unidentified killer was suspected of killing several female prostitutes in the poorer areas of Whitechapel in the London area. His victims were gruesomely disembowelled with their throats cut prior to these mutilations, which made the police suspect that the killer had surgical or anatomical experience. These claims over the identity of Jack the Ripper are to be published in a new book entitled Naming Jack the Ripper, written by businessman Russell Edwards, who is a self-proclaimed “armchair detective.”

His evidence is based around a bloodstained shawl which he bought at auction in 2007. He enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert, to assist him in testing the DNA of the blood on the shawl to identify the killer. The shawl was taken from the scene of Catherine Eddowes’ murder and had been passed down through the generations. Through the use of various new line techniques, Edwards states that the DNA evidence proves “beyond a doubt” that the killer was Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish immigrant who was a barber in 1888, the year of the murders. Kosminski had been a suspect during the investigation, and was later sent to an asylum for different reasons, where he died years later.

As would be expected after years of debate and confusion over the identity of the Ripper, this revelation has stirred some discontent among Jack the Ripper experts. One such expert, Mike Covell, a Jack the Ripper historian from Hull, has categorically denied claims that the killer was in fact Aaron Kosminski. He has discredited the validity of the bloodstained shawl as not being conclusive evidence, with the history surrounding how it got there still being hazy.

Covell states that many experts have ruled Kosminski out as being the killer, with the conclusion that he was a harmless man who was prone to inappropriate displays of masturbation. Additionally, having worked with the shawl in 2010, it has been suggested by Covell that the DNA samples on the shawl were too old to use conclusively, and with the added wear of the shawl being passed from generation to generation, there was inconclusive proof surrounding the matching DNA, let alone whether it matched with the killer himself.

While the evidence may look conclusive from a certain perspective, due to the DNA match being made with Kosminski’s present relatives, the doubts that have surfaced over the validity of the evidence and the character of the man himself, at this point in time make it very difficult to be completely certain of the result. It would be nice to think that modern technology was so far advanced that it could easily solve a mystery such as this, but as it stands there are too many variables surrounding the evidence and its origins which make it problematic to conclusively identify Kosminski as the killer. Also, when it comes to a mystery on such a large scale as the Jack the Ripper murders, there is always an element of people preferring it to remain a mystery, as the thrill of trying to discover the identity of the killer is more satisfying than the end product. The chase gives the story life, and in a world where careers are made based around the history and inconclusive nature of the Ripper’s identity, it would take far more discerning evidence to convince everybody. If indeed the killer, known only as Jack the Ripper is truly unknowable, then the story will live on in the minds of the public for years to come.

 

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29119092

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746321/Jack-Ripper-unmasked-How-amateur-sleuth-used-DNA-breakthrough-identify-Britains-notorious-criminal-126-years-string-terrible-murders.html

http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Jack-Ripper-Aaron-Kosminski-Er-says-expert-Mike/story-22893770-detail/story.html