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Merseyside's own Sherlock and Watson name Jack The Ripper

DNA secrets of 125-year-old shawl revealed by Birkenhead sleuth and John Moores University biologist

Written by . Published on September 8th 2014.

Merseyside's own Sherlock and Watson name Jack The Ripper

A MODERN day Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson – both from Merseyside – claim to have cracked a crime that for more than 120 years has baffled Scotland Yard.

They say they have unmasked the notorious slayer of London prostitutes, Jack the Ripper.

Birkenhead armchair detective Russell Edwards teamed up with an academic scientist from Liverpool John Moores University, and in true Holmes and Watson tradition unearthed what they are convinced is the truth behind the mystery.

Using a shawl, bought at auction by Edwards and believed to have been worn by Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes, forensic expert Dr Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in molecular biology at LJMU, used mitochondrial DNA to prove Polish migrant Aaron Kosminski, aged 23, was the brutal killer who brought terror to Victorian London.

Main-RipperDr Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in molecular biology at JMU, says he has unmasked Saucy Jack (right)

The forensic work is outlined in a new book, written by property developer Edwards and published this week. As yet the DNA evidence has not been received or examined by independent third parties, leading some critics to doubt its veracity.

Jack the Ripper terrorised the streets of the capital in the 1880s. His victims were female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums. Usually their throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations and the removal of internal organs. This fuelled speculation at the time that the killer possessed a working knowledge of anatomical science and surgical procedures.

At least five murders, including that of Eddowes, were linked by detectives to the Ripper, but there could have been more. The crimes, which have spawned dozens of movies and books, have remain unsolved to this day with speculation rife as to who the killer really was.

But for Scotland Yard, Kosminsk, a hairdresser who lived and worked in the notorious Whitechapel area, was always the prime suspect. At one point was placed under surveillance by the police but there was never enough evidence to nail him. A paranoid schizophrenic with multiple psychiatric issues he was commited to an asylum three years after the final murder and remained there until his death in 1919.



In 2011, and back in Liverpool, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract DNA from two sources - blood and semen - from the shawl, found by the body of Eddowes who was brutally butchered on September 30, 1888. 

“I was astonished,” said Edwards. “I’d only set out to prove the shawl was genuine and here I was confronted with evidence of the Ripper himself.

Embroidered with Michaelmas daisies, the garment had been bought four years earlier, by Edwards, for an undisclosed sum. The seller was a descendent of a police officer who had taken it home from the crime scene.

The LJMU biologist had been enlisted by Edwards to examine the fabric, sparking a three year scientific analysis and the search for the descendants of Catherine Eddowes and Kosminski.

Louhelainen was able to prove a 100 per cent match that the DNA belonged to Kosminski after an unnamed female descendent of Kosminski's sister was traced, living in UK. The link to Eddowes was confimed after Edwards found a woman called Karen Miller, the three-times great-granddaughter of Eddowes, who also agreed to provide a sample.

“It was an amazing moment,”  said Edwards, who reportedly spent £750,000 of his own money in the investigation.“ One of the greatest unsolved crime mysteries of all time has been solved through cutting edge science, historical research and a great deal of determination and good fortune.”

He told reporters he would like the garment to go on show at the Crime Museum.

“I’m not saying how much I paid for it back in 2007, but I dare say it is worth a lot more money now."

*Naming Jack the Ripper will be published as a hardback book by Sidgwick and Jackson on Tuesday.

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    8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

    AnonymousSeptember 8th 2014.

    Fascinating tale but none of the snooty establishment appear to want it to be true because the bloke has got a book out.

    1 Response: Reply To This...
    AnonymousSeptember 9th 2014.

    what are you on about?

    Ramsey CampbellSeptember 8th 2014.

    At least as fascinating as the Maybrick diary.

    1 Response: Reply To This...
    AnonymousSeptember 8th 2014.

    Wasn't the Maybrick diary a fake?

    The Creeping TerrorSeptember 9th 2014.

    The Daily Mail loves this story because the horrific murders can be blamed on a Polish immigrant.

    Ramsey CampbellSeptember 9th 2014.

    I don't know about the snooty establishment, but these points seem to need answering: "Jack the Ripper has not been identified. It is just a publicity stunt. Firstly, the murder took place in the City of London and Metropolitan police officers like Sergeant Amos Simpson were not present. The body was found by PC Edward Watkins, City Police, and he or any other City policeman would have had no reason to give the shawl to an officer from another force. Secondly, of all we have no explanation for how this policeman, who should not have been anywhere near the scene anyway, was allowed to steal evidence like the shawl when all other evidence was carefully gathered. The shawl was large and bulky there were soon lots of City officers on the scene who carefully guarded the area. As soon as a piece of evidence as big as the shawl was found it would have been taken for evidence. It might be possible to steal something small as a souvenir but not that shawl. Thirdly, the shawl itself was a large heavy woollen shawl moderately expensive yet that night Catherine Eddowes pawned her boots she was so short of cash. Rather than walking through London barefoot she would have been far more likely to pawn this shawl if she had it. Fourthly, the DNA match is to michrotrodinal DNA which is shared by 4% of the population which means hundreds of thousands of false matches are possible. Fifthly, there has been over 100 years for DNA cross contamination onto the shawl. Sixthly, why hasn't the scientific evidence for this claim been submitted for peer review? Instead they have gone to the Daily Mail. Seventh point why hasn't the name of this so called descendent of Kosminski been released we need to check birth records to see if they actually are related to him."

    1 Response: Reply To This...
    AnonymousSeptember 9th 2014.

    Anyone would think they have a book coming out... oh.

    Charles DickensSeptember 9th 2014.

    Trust you to have a world renowned horror fiction writer posting to go and spoil it

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