Jack the Ripper’s true identity revealed? “Serious DNA error” casts some doubt

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It may have been too good to be true. Russell Edwards’ claim he had discovered the true identity of the man behind Jack The Ripper has been cast in some doubt following a “DNA error” according to users at Casebook.org. They say the scientist, Jari Louhelainen, has made an “error of nomenclature” when using a DNA database to calculate the chances of a genetic match. If true, it would mean his calculations were wrong and that virtually anyone could have left the DNA that he insisted came from the Ripper’s victim.

Edwards’ publisher is investigating the error but notes the finding “relies on much more than this one figure.”

The story about the unmasking is as follows:

It’s been claimed many times before, but now the London newspaper The Mail On Sunday has printed compelling new information of the person behind the famous grisly murders in East London some 126 years ago.

For Jack the Ripper has been named as Polish-born Aaron Kosminski, who was identified by a shawl found at the scene. DNA testing has revealed he is the man behind the bloody murders of at least five women in Whitechapel during the autumn of 1888.

Kosminski was already a suspect in the case during the time of the investigation and was later put in an asylum. But the shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

The newspaper reports, that the landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes:

Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.

The revelation puts an end to the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity which has lasted since his murderous rampage in the most impoverished and dangerous streets of London.

Russell Edwards then describes how he managed to actually connect the dots with the DNA:

It was impossible to extract DNA from the stains on the shawl using the method employed in current cases, in which swabs are taken. The samples were just too old. Instead, he used a method he called ‘vacuuming’, using a pipette filled with a special ‘buffering’ liquid that removed the genetic material in the cloth without damaging it.

As a non-scientist, I found myself in a new world as Jari warned that it would also be impossible to use genomic DNA, which is used in fresh cases and contains a human’s entire genetic data, because over time it would have become fragmented.

But he explained it would be possible to use mitochondrial DNA instead. It is passed down exclusively through the female line, is much more abundant than genomic DNA, and survives far better.

This meant that in order to give us something to test against, I had to trace a direct descendant through the female line of Catherine Eddowes. Luckily, a woman named Karen Miller, the three-times great-granddaughter of Eddowes, had featured in a documentary about the Ripper’s victims, and agreed to provide a sample of her DNA. Jari managed to get six complete DNA profiles from the shawl, and when he tested them against Karen’s they were a perfect match.

Read more on the Mail On Sunday Website on how they attempted to prove that the shawl contained the killer’s DNA…..

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