Britain's The Daily Mail seemed to get the true crime scoop of the century Sunday, publishing a piece by an "amateur sleuth" who claims to have finally identified one of the world's most notorious serial killers.
The Daily Mail's source, Russell Edwards, identified as a businessman and Ripper enthusiast, claims to have used cutting-edge DNA technology to positively identify the killer as Aaron Kosminski, a Polish hairdresser who fled to England in the early 1880s and lived with his family in Whitechapel, the East London neighborhood where the Ripper murders took place. Hedied in an insane asylum.
However, the story, written in first person by Edwards, is not entirely conclusive:
- The forensic scientist who performed the analysis, Dr. Jari Louhelainen, devised his own, previously untested methods for extracting and testing the DNA.
- Instead of getting his work published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, Louhelainen summed up his methodology in a short secondary piece in the Mail.
- Edwards wrote that the source of the DNA for both the victim and, allegedly, her killer came from a shawl said to belong to the murder victim, which was taken by a police officer for his dressmaker wife. Why was it never washed and used?
- After being reportedly handed down through five generations, who can say with any certainty who the shawl belonged to?
London's Metropolitan Police Service does list a Kosminski at the top of itsshortlistof four Ripper suspects, though it concedes that "arguments can be made against all of them being the culprit, and no hard evidence exists against any of them."
Though Jack the Ripper had a comparatively low confirmed body count of five (with more disputed files), his name and the enduring mystery of his identity have kept his story alive. Writers, policemen and amateur detectives have put forth more than 100 suspects as possible identities for the Ripper.
Other researchers have also committed significant time and resources to solve the case, and came up with their own suspects:
Just last year Trevor Marriott, a retired homicide detective in England, claimed in an interview with the Sunday Expressthat over 11 years of forensic analysis, he'd found 17 other Ripper-like murders including cases in Germany and the U.S., and that the culprit was German merchant Carl Feigenbaum. He also put forth that the Ripper may not have been a skilled surgeon at all, as it was allowed for morgues to use the internal organs of the deceased for training.
Author Charles van Onselen spent nearly 30 years meticulously researching the Ripper case, culminating in "The Fox and the Flies," in which he names Joseph Lis/Silver, a sadistic international pimp from Poland, as the killer.