Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer whose identity has been a mystery for over a century, has been identified, according to one scientist. However, a closer look at the highly publicized claim has raised some serious doubts to Jack the Ripper's real identity.
According to a post by Daily Mail, Jack the Ripper was identified through DNA testing of the shawl of one of his victims, Catherine Eddowes. The shawl, which was bought by businessman Russell Edwards at an auction, still contained blood from Eddowes and semen believed to be from Jack the Ripper. Scientist Dr. Louhelainen extracted the 126-year-old DNA and compared it to descendants of Eddowes and descendants of one of the suspects of the gruesome murders.
As The Inquisitr reported earlier, the study concluded that the DNA of suspect Aaron Kosminski's descendants matched the DNA on the shawl, leading many to believe that the mystery of Jack the Ripper had been solved.
However, some people are questioning the method in which Jack the Ripper has been identified, and express doubts about whether Aaron Kominski is actually Jack the Ripper.
According to The Independent, the belief that the shawl was actually at the scene where Catherine Eddowes died is based on a letter. Russell Edwards, who bought the shawl at an auction in 2007, claims that he has a letter from a descendant of Sergeant Amos Simpson proving that the shawl was at the scene of the crime. The Independent reports that Simpson was the policeman on duty when Jack the Ripper murdered Eddowes. Simpson allegedly grabbed the shawl and took it home to give to his wife.
As the story goes, the officer's wife did not appreciate the shawl covered in blood, and she stashed it away without attempting to clean it. It became a morbid object passed down through the generations and then finally sold to Russell Edwards.
The Oregonian reports Edwards has stated that "there was no evidence for its [the shawl's] provenance", but he was relying solely on the letter from a descendant to prove that the shawl was at the Jack the Ripper crime scene.
Edwards was responsible for tracking down the descendants of the alleged Jack the Ripper and Eddowes to prove that the semen and bloodstain on the shawl was that of Kominski and Eddowes.
Scientist Jari Louhelainen was responsible for analyzing the DNA on the shawl and that of the alleged descendants. He has not published his findings in any peer-reviewed scientific journal for professionals to analyze, refute, or confirm the claims, according to The Independent.
Skeptics believe that even if the shawl was never washed, it has been handled enough to present problems of DNA cross contamination. It is possible that the alleged descendants' DNA could have possibly contaminated the shawl since both were tested in the same laboratory. Comparisons to other studies point out that other professionals use different methods to ensure that cross contamination is not possible.
Often, duplicate testing is done in different laboratories with different scientists to make sure that the same conclusion is reached. As far as anyone knows, the DNA testing proving that Jack the Ripper was Kominski has not been replicated in any other independent laboratory.
Sir Alec Jeffreys, the expert who invented the DNA fingerprint technique, told The Independent that the claim that Jack the Ripper has been identified has no merit as of yet.
"An interesting but remarkable claim that needs to be subjected to peer review, with detailed analysis of the provenance of the shawl and the nature of the claimed DNA match with the perpetrator's descendants and its power of discrimination; no actual evidence has yet been provided."
As it turns out, Edwards is currently trying to sell a book based on the findings of his investigations that led to the alleged identity of Jack the Ripper, further adding skepticism to the study conducted on his behalf.