DNA evidence may have solved the mystery of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who brutally murdered 11 prostitutes in Victorian England. A shawl that was reportedly found on the body of one of his victims had blood that has been identified as having come from one of women he killed and semen that has a DNA match with a descendant of one of the original suspects, Aaron Kosminki. But the findings are being challenged.
Jack the Ripper was a 23-year-old Polish immigrant called Aaron Kosminski, according to an author claiming to have exposed the serial killer’s true identity using DNA evidence.
Russell Edwards, who describes himself as an “armchair detective”, believes he has identified the Victorian murderer for the first time after more than 120 years of mystery.
He said Kosminski, who died in an asylum, was “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the man behind the grisly killing spree in 1888 in Whitechapel.
Police had identified Kosminski as a suspect, Mr Edwards said, but never had enough evidence to bring him to trial.
Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, who led the investigation, recorded a suspect named “Kosminski” in contemporary notes, saying he was a low-class Polish Jew and had family living in Whitechapel.
The notes, donated by his descendants to Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum in 2006, included a memorandum from Assistant Chief Constable Sir Melville Macnaghten saying Kosminski “had a great hatred of women…with strong homicidal tendencies”.A Jewish immigrant from Poland, he fled persecution in his homeland while it was under Russian control and came with his family to England in 1881, living in Mile End, east London.
His occupation was listed in workhouse documents as a barber in Whitechapel but he was later admitted to a string of lunatic asylums, where he died in 1899 after contracting gangrene in his leg.
There were anti-Semitic protests at the time of the Ripper murderers after a disputed message written on a wall in Goulston Street, near where two bodies had been found, believed to be from the killer identifying himself as Jewish.
The message was washed off amid fears of anti-Semitic riots and its authenticity has been disputed ever since.
A blood-stained shawl belonging to one of the Ripper’s victims bought at an auction in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 2007 was used as the basis for the research.
As well as being soaked in her blood, it was found to have traces of semen thought to belong to the killer.