Jack The Ripper Identity Remains A Secret—Why Does This Serial Killer Still Fascinate?

It was reported in September that “Jack The Ripper” had been identified at long last.

The Daily Mail shared the discovery as an “exclusive.”

The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.

According to the article, the Ripper’s identity was at last determined by an “amateur” sleuth named Russell Edwards.

The 48-year-old businessman bought a shawl which was found near the body of victim, Russell Edwards. Edwards was one of at least five people that Jack The Ripper is believed to have murdered.

With the help of Dr. Jari Louhelainen, the man was said to have finally “unmasked” the legendary killer. They claimed that all along it was Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber:

Kosminski was 23 when the murders took place, and living with his two brothers and a sister in Greenfield Street, just 200 yards from where the third victim, Elizabeth Stride, was killed.


Kosminski was not a member of the Royal Family, or an eminent surgeon or politician. Serial killers rarely are. Instead, he was a pathetic creature, a lunatic who achieved sexual satisfaction from slashing women to death in the most brutal manner. He died in Leavesden Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53.

Almost immediately, the claims made by these men and the Daily Mail were the subject of scrutiny.

It was crime enthusiasts in Australia that first spotted a possible mistake. Their concerns were echoed by DNA analysts, including Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, who happens to be to be the man who invented genetic fingerprinting.

On Sunday, The Independent reported that the scientist who made the claim that Jack The Ripper’s identity was finally known was likely wrong. Apparently the man made a “serious error” when analyzing the DNA.

The scientist, Jari Louhelainen, is said to have 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.

This also means that once again, the identity of Jack The Ripper remains unknown.

No doubt this is disappointing to crime enthusiasts; however, maybe this is a good chance to ask why we still care about the identity of a man who existed in the late 19th century. A man who is long dead.

Shouldn’t our time and energy be turned towards caring about the thousands of people who disappear each year and various modern crimes that remain unsolved?

[Image Credit: Ben Sutherland]