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Has mtDNA identified Jack the Ripper?

“Ripperology” is quite a confused subject and at least a dozen suspects have been conclusively “identified as the Whitechapel fiend. Nevertheless, this article and the book detailed within, if taken at face value, uses the scientific techniques that identified Richard III, Jesse James, Nicholas II and others to claim to solve the East London riddle once and for all.

The critical case is that of the fourth definite, or “canonical”, victim: Catherine Eddowes, who was slain in the early hours of Sunday 30 September 1988 and found in Mitre Square, about an hour after the discovery of Elizabeth Stride. Eddowes’ apron, found nearby, is the first exhibit here and the second is a silk shawl (below left), apparently found by her body and heavily bloodstained. Russell Edwards, who wrote the article in question, located the shawl at an auction in Bury St. Edmunds in 2001 and contacted Jari Louhelainen, a senior biology lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University and crime buff.

Jack the Ripper suspect Aaron Kosminski

First, they traced Eddowes’ great-great-great granddaughter and the multiple-great-niece of leading suspect Aaron Kosminsky (right), who was, in September 1888, a 23 year-old Polish Jewish hairdresser in East London that month, later to die in a lunatic asylum in Colney Hatch, where he was admitted in 1891. Importantly, both of these living relatives were related strictly through the female line and the mtDNA of both matched the blood on the apron and semen on parts of the shawl, thus seemingly demonstrating beyond peradventure that their respective Victorian relatives had both left bodily fluids on them.

Sadly, Edwards and Louhelainen’s research is yet, five years after publication, to be peer reviewed. If it were, we would need look no further for “Jack” as Kosminski briefly entered a workhouse in 1890 and was committed to Colney Hatch (left) the following February.

Here, however, is the counter-argument, quoting Paul Begg and Dr. Turi King, disputing the connection between Eddowes and the shawl, the genealogy and the significance of the DNA match. In summary, Kosminski cannot be eliminated by Edwards and Louhelainen’s research, nor can he yet be identified as “Jack” with forensic certainty. This BBC documentary points towards him in other ways.

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Identifying Richard’s remains is one of Sir Alec’s three proudest moments….

Sir Alec Jeffreys, the scientist who revealed the secrets of genetic fingerprinting,  remembers the exact moment of his discovery. “It was 9.05 on the morning of Monday, September 10, 1984 – it’s seared into my memory,” he said.

It may not be seared into ours in the same way, but we still marvel at the importance of his work. Just think of all the advances and mystery-solving that has resulted. He deserves our gratitude.

And Ricardians definitely appreciate him. He rates the identification of Richard III’s remains as one of the three proudest moments of his career.

 

Richard III expert to help determine if headless skeleton is the ‘hero’ of Jamestown….

Jamestown skelly

Nothing to do with Richard—except obliquely—but the parallels are interesting anyway.

Richard visits Ireland….

Galway - Richard

Richard’s gone to Galway! Lucky man. No wonder he’s smiling. Well, it’s The ‘Richard III Discovered’ Exhibition that’s gone, but he’s there in spirit, I’m sure.

http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/96655/hail-the-king-science-and-technology-festival-brings-richard-iii-saga-to-galway

http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/96630/long-dead-english-king-to-finally-make-royal-visit-to-galway

 

Richard talk given in Dubrovnik….

croatia-dubrovnik-old-city-center-aerial-view

Between 19 – 24 June this year, Professor Turi King gave a Special Plenary Lecture in Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia at the 10th International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) Conference in Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia. Her subject was ‘Richard III: the resolution of a 500 year old cold case’, and provided an insight into the ground-breaking discovery of the mortal remains.

Dr Turi King knows her stuff, so I’m sure the talk was very well received.

 

Dr Turi King and her team are short-listed for National Archaeology Award…

dr-turi-king

All credit for the nitty-gritty scientific work done by this time, but never let it be forgotten that the vital original groundwork was done by others, such as Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill.

http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2016/december/richard-iii-geneticist-among-those-nominated-for-national-archaeology-award

 

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