After over 100 years of mystery and speculation, a team of scientists in the U.K. believes they have DNA proof that definitively identifies the legendary serial killer Jack the Ripper - and it appears he was a real-life Sweeney Todd, Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The breaking story originally from Fox News on March 18, 2019 continues below:
‘Forensic analysis by scientists in the U.K. may have unmasked Jack the Ripper more than a century after the murderer's brutal killing spree sent shockwaves through Victorian London.
Research by Dr. Jari Louhelainen, senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University and Dr. David Miller, reader in molecular andrology at the University of Leeds, claims to shed new light on the notorious serial killer. In an abstract of their research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Louhelainen and Miller explained they used what is, to their knowledge, the only remaining physical evidence linked to the murders, recovered from one of the Ripper's famous victims at the scene of her death.
Jack the Ripper is thought to have claimed the lives of at least five women in the Whitechapel area of London between August and November 1888. However, the identity of the notorious murderer remains shrouded in mystery.
Science Magazine reports that the scientists analyzed a blood-stained shawl from Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the so-called "canonical five" Jack the Ripper victims. Eddowes was killed on Sept. 30, 1888, and her badly mutilated body was found on Whitechapel's Mitre Square.
The scientists' genetic testing linked Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber living in London, to the crimes, according to Science Magazine. Although identified as a Jack the Ripper suspect, police are said to have lacked sufficient evidence to charge Kosminski for the murders.
"We applied novel, minimally destructive techniques for sample recovery from forensically relevant stains on the evidence and separated single cells linked to the suspect, followed by phenotypic analysis," say the scientists, in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. "The mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] profiles of both the victim and the suspect matched the corresponding reference samples, fortifying the link of the evidence to the crime scene."
Mitochondrial DNA is often described as the "powerhouse of the cell."
Kosminski had been identified by a witness to one of the Jack the Ripper killings, although the witness refused to testify against him, experts say.
However, the latest research claims to back up the witness who pointed the finger at Kosminski.
"Genomic DNA from single cells recovered from the evidence was amplified, and the phenotypic information acquired matched the only witness statement regarded as reliable," said Louhelainen and Miller, in the abstract. "To our knowledge, this is the most advanced study to date regarding this case."
Science Magazine reports that, while Kosminski has been linked to the horrific crimes before, this is the first time that the DNA evidence has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
More extensive information on the research will be released later this year. "The full story that the paper, and new revealing graphic evidence relating to the case, will be published in September," explained Liverpool John Moores University, in a statement emailed to Fox News.’
Is Aaron Kosminski truly the Demon Barber of Whitechapel? It has long been speculated that Jack the Ripper possessed some kind of medical knowledge due to the way he cut apart his victims. But it is also possible that a barber, responsible for precisely cutting hair and shaving faces (and necks), would have similar handy skills when wielding sharp implements like scissors or a blade. For centuries there were even so-called “barber surgeons,” who were exactly what they sounded like - barbers with limited medical knowledge who performed surgical procedures, from tooth-pulling to bloodletting to limb amputation. Though the practice of barber surgeons was largely ended in the early 19th century, could Aaron Kosminski have studied their methods, and applied them to carrying out gruesome serial killings?
Another interesting detail is the timing of the killings, which is still up for debate. Though the canonical number of murders committed by Jack the Ripper is five, all in 1888, Whitechapel actually saw 11 brutal and unexplained murders which finally ended in 1891. Also in 1891, suspect Kosminski was admitted to an insane asylum. He would remain in asylums until his death in 1919, reportedly suffering from auditory hallucinations, a paranoid fear of being fed by other people, and a refusal to bathe. Could he be responsible for any, or all, of the Whitechapel murders?
With so many years elapsed between Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror and the modern day investigations into his identity, it may be that not even DNA can conclusively solve his mystery. But it certainly does not stop us from continuing to speculate, theorize, and find ourselves morbidly fascinated by this unknown killer of legendary proportions. Was Jack the Ripper really Aaron Kosminski, or is the identity of the true murderer still at large? Share your own theories with us in the comments!