Jack The Ripper Unmasked?

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-GB The nightmare began in August 1888. A series of violent killings sprang up across Whitechapel. Raped, butchered, and mutilated – these were no ordinary killings. And every single victim was a woman… Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly. These are the 5 Whitechapel murders, but many historians suspect that their killer slaughtered as many as 11 victims. • Mary Ann Nichols, 43 Date: August 31st Street: Buck’s Row Murder: Slit throat, mutilated abdomen • Annie Chapman, Date: September 8th Street: Hanbury Street Murder: Slit throat, disembowlment, uterus removed • Double Murder: Elizabeth Stride, 44 & Catherine Eddowes, 46 Date: September 30th Street: Dutfield’s Yard, Mitre Square Murder: Slit throats, Mutilated face, disembowlment, uterus removed • Mary Jane Kelly Date: November 9th Street: Dorset Street Murder: Skineed, mutilated No woman is safe, and not even Scotland Yard can find out who’s behind these hideous crimes.

The only thing they know about the killer – those 3 words that keep families up at night – is his nom de guerre: ‘Jack the Ripper’. London was in a grip of hysteria. What had these women done to deserve such brutal execution? The one link between them was their nighttime activity: prostitution. Servicing strange men they met in the dark alleys of London’s East end made them the perfect targets for a vicious murderer. But who was he – and more terrifyingly – where was he? Scotland Yard was in a race against time to crack this case before another woman was killed. But the British press couldn’t get enough.

[quote bgcolor=#DDDDDD icon=dark size=12 width=30% color=#0808FF align=right]I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing..I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since. H. H. Holmes [/quote]

Readers were gripped by this real life 19th Century horror, and instead of cooperating with the police, the newspapers started lying to their audience to juice up the story. Journalists were writing hoax letters pretending to be the killer. And in one of these letters, the writer called himself ‘Jack the Ripper’ – and so the legend was born. In November 1888 Jack committed his last Whitechapel killing. Somehow, the Ripper had outwitted Scotland Yard, and satisfied his thirst for killing the fairer sex… What made him stop? London was giddy with suspicion, trying to guess who the Ripper might be. Today, there are more than 100 theories about his identity. Everyone from author Lewis Carroll to artist Walter Sickert were linked to the crimes.

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Even Queen Victoria’s grandson was a hot suspect. Prince Albert Victor was rumoured to have had an illegitimate child with an East end prostitute, and the rabbles wondered if he set about on a murdering spree to keep her quiet. It wasn’t until the arrival of a murder letter, ‘From Hell’, that London police landed on a convincing piece of evidence from Jack. ‘From hell Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer. signed Catch me when you Can’ Experts are confident that this letter is from Jack because of what came with it – a kidney, preserved in ethanol, from one of Jack’s murder victims, likely to be Catherine Eddowes. What this piece of evidence and Jack’s unusual modus operandi told police was that they were dealing with a man with an understanding of human anatomy.

[quote icon=dark size=12 width=20% color=#787878 align=left]One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century. - Jack the Ripper [/quote]Here was someone clearly skilled in the removal of body parts. Could the killer be a doctor? Perhaps, conspiracy theorists claim, it was even the Queen’s surgeon, Sir William Gull, acting on behalf of Prince Albert Victor? For all the speculation, Ripperologists are still scratching their heads over the identity of old Jack 126 years later. But could modern technology help us crack the mystery? That’s exactly what businessman Russell Edwards tried, with the help of molecular biologist Dr Jari Louhelainen. In 2007 Edwards bought an old, stained shawl at an auction. What’s special about this shawl is that it belonged to Catherine Eddowes when she was killed. Using a technique called DNA ‘vacuuming’, Dr Louhelainen collected genetic information from the fabric of the shawl, and discovered Catherine Eddowes’ splattered blood stains were mixed with semen. Infrared imaging and DNA extraction managed to identify the semen as belonging to a man called Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who moved to England in 1881 and became a barber in Whitechapel. Could Aaron Kosminski be the Ripper? What makes this evidence so compelling is that police case notes from the Ripper investigations explicitly refer to a Polish Jew called Kosminski.

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The police never wrote down his first name, nor did they charge him with murder, but they did identify him as their chief suspect. Furthermore, research on Kosminski has revealed that he was admitted into an insane asylum in 1891, at the same time that the 11th and last possible Ripper victim was murdered. It may be just a coincidence, but it’s a compelling one. However, Ripperologist Richard Cobb is doubtful. Lots of men in Whitechapel would have probably come into contact with the sex worker’s shawl, and left traces of their DNA on the fabric. It just so happened that Russel Edwards was looking for Kosminski’s DNA and found it. Meanwhile, numerous DNA scientists from across the world have criticised a potential error in Dr Louhelainen's analysis of the shawl's DNA.

If he did make a mistake, then the mystery of who exactly was Jack the Ripper remains as unsolved as ever..

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