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, 48, who describes himself as an “armchair detective”, believes he has identified the infamous Victorian serial murderer for the first time.
The Independent reported that he said Kosminski was “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the man behind the grisly killing spree in 1888 in Whitechapel.
A shawl belonging to Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper's victims, was used as the basis for the research.
The shawl – still retaining stains and genetic material from the fateful night almost 126 years ago – had been bought by Edwards at an auction in Bury St Edmunds in 2007. It had been taken from the scene by acting Sergeant Amos Simpson, who was on duty the night of Eddowes's death and wanted it for his wife. She was reportedly horrified at the macabre gift and never wore it. It was stored away and passed down through the generations, never washed, until it came to the auction.
Edwards said: “I've got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case. I've spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now – we have unmasked him."
Jack the Ripper murdered at least five women, slashing their throats, removing internal organs and leaving their mutilated bodied in darkened alleyways.
With the help of Dr. Jari Louhelainen, an expert in molecular biology, Edwards used pioneering techniques to analyze DNA from the shawl over three-and-a-half years. “When we discovered the truth it was the most amazing feeling of my entire life," he said.
In the Mail On Sunday, Dr. Louhelainen is quoted as saying: "It has taken a great deal of hard work, using cutting-edge scientific techniques which would not have been possible five years ago. 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.
"The first strand of DNA showed a 99.2 per cent match, as the analysis instrument could not determine the sequence of the missing 0.8 per cent fragment of DNA. On testing the second strand, we achieved a perfect 100 per cent match."
Police had identified Kosminski as a suspect at the time, 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 lower-class Polish Jew and had family living in Whitechapel.
The notes 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.
Accoding to Metro, Edwards said he was partly inspired to take up the search after watching From Hell, a film about the Ripper murders starring Johnny Depp. He has published his findings in a book called Naming Jack the Ripper.