Jack the Ripper identified?

A self-confessed “armchair detective” from Barnet, north London has claimed to have solved one of the most notorious crime mysteries in British history by saying that he has discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Russell Edwards, 48 has pointed the finger at Aaron Kosminski, a 23 year-old Polish immigrant that ended up dying in an asylum as “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the one behind the killing spree in the East End of London, 1888.

Kosminski was a Polish Jewish immigrant who fled persecution by the Russian rulers of Poland, coming with his family to England in 1881 and settled in Mile End Old Town. According to Edwards, police had identified Kosminski as a suspect, but did not have enough evidence to bring him to trial. He was admitted to several lunatic asylums, until dying in 1899 of gangrene in the leg.

Edwards’ proof was a blood-stained shawl he had bought in 2007 after an auction in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk which held vital DNA evidence which led him to the killer. The shawl had been found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, who had been murdered by the Ripper.

With the help of Jari Louhelainen, an expert in molecular biology, he was able to find DNA from her blood and that of the killer.

“I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case,” he said. “I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now- we have unmasked him.”

Jack the Ripper had murdered at least five women in the alleyways of Whitechapel, cutting their throats and removing some of their internal organs, leaving their bodies behind.

However there have been doubts from others that have studied the Ripper murders.

Richard Cobb, who is in charge of Jack the Ripper conventions and tours, told The Times that since the shawl had been touched by many people over the years, any DNA samples found become less reliable.

“The shawl has been openly handled by loads of people and been touched, breathed on, spat upon.” Cobb said.

Edwards’ book on the very subject, Naming Jack the Ripper; will be published in the UK on Tuesday 9th September.

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