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June 20, 2019

Scientists may have finally figured out Jack the Ripper’s identity

March 22, 2019
Jack the Ripper in one of his notorious slashing attacks. From the Police Gazette. (Bettmann / Bettmann Archive)

The identity of Jack the Ripper may finally be known, more than a century after the notorious killer terrorized London.

Despite being over 100 years old, the case of Jack the Ripper – who tore through 19th century London, taking the lives of innocent women – has never closed, least not for forensic scientists in Great Britain. Last week, a group of scientists published a series of genetic tests, which led to one name: Aaron Kosminski.

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The 23-year-old Polish native is no stranger to those familiar with the case. In fact, police had their eye on the barber – who spent time at the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum – during the initial investigation.

There are various schools of thought regarding how many murders Jack the Ripper actually committed, and how many were just committed under similar circumstances. There were 11 murders, known as “The Whitechapel murders” by the London Metropolitan Police Service which spanned April 3, 1888, to Feb. 13, 1891. Though Jack the Ripper may be associated with, if not responsible for all 11, only five, referred to as the “canonical five,” are widely accepted as his doing. These victims include Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.

A shawl found next to Eddowes’ body was stained with what is presumed to be both blood and semen. It’s believed by some that the semen was left by the killer.

According to Science, the scientists tasked with Jack the Ripper’s discovery compared mitochondrial DNA – which comes from the mother – from said shawl to samples which came from surviving descendants of Eddowes and one of Kosminski’s.

Despite the alleged breakthrough, some question the validity of the discovery, wondering whether the shawl is suitable enough to prove Kosminski’s association. There is nothing concrete to say the shawl was present at the crime scene. Additionally, some worry the shawl could have been contaminated since its retrieval.

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