Has Forensic Science Finally Unmasked Jack The Ripper?

Has Forensic Science Finally Unmasked Jack The Ripper?

Jack the Ripper, the scourge of Whitechapel and possibly the world’s most famous cold case, has reportedly been solved by a businessman and a forensic analyst, according to The Daily Mail.

The partner teamed up after businessman Russell Edwards obtained a shawl that supposedly belonged to Catherine Eddowes, an unfortunate victim to the Ripper’s grisly murders. Enlisting forensic expert Jari Louhelainen’s expertise, particularly with historic murders, the evidence shows “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which one of the six potential suspects Jack the Ripper actually was.

The perpetrator is allegedly Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old polish barber at the time who lived in close proximity to the murders. Edwards says that he tracked down a decedent of Kominski’s for mitochondrial comparison to evidence found on the shawl. Once they compared the two, they had a match.

The duo began working on unmasking Jack the Ripper back in 2011. After three and half years, Louhelainen is confident that they have found the killer. This is how he came to his chilling discovery, as he described in The Daily Mail:

I needed to sequence the DNA found in the stains on the shawl, which means mapping the DNA by determining the exact order of the bases in a strand. I used polymerase chain reaction, a technique which allows millions of exact copies of the DNA to be made, enough for sequencing.

When I tested the resulting DNA profiles against the DNA taken from swabs from Catherine Eddowes’s descendant, they were a match…

…Because of the genome amplification technique, I was also able to ascertain the ethnic and geographical background of the DNA I extracted. It was of a type known as the haplogroup T1a1, common in people of Russian Jewish ethnicity. I was even able to establish that he had dark hair.

So is the case solved for good?

Conspiracy theorists will always refute otherwise, but at face value, the reported evidence seems convincing. However, this startling discovery is also conveniently timed with Edwards’ book detailing his genetic sleuthing journey, called Naming Jack the Ripper, which makes this all kind of seem like an elaborate PR stunt. Plus, an article in The Daily Mail doesn’t have quite the scientific authority of a peer reviewed journal. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what academic followup comes from Edwards and Louhelainen’s claims, and if we can actually put this century-old cold case to rest. [The Daily Mail]

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