Could DNA evidence from a shawl worn by a victim tie a suspect to a murder 126 years later? What is being inferred by an individual that the media and the tabloids tag as an “amateur investigator,” is shocking the Ripper enthusiasts and socialites of Ripper lore[i].
Businessman, Russell Edwards, purchased a shawl that was allegedly found next to one of the Ripper victim’s bodies, Catherine Eddowes. After watching the movie, “From Hell,”[ii] according to sources, Edwards became “intrigued” by the movie and it sparked a flame in him to find the real killer behind the Whitechapel crimes.
Edwards purchased the shawl at an auction. Many Ripperologist’s have dismissed the shawls authenticity, as it has not been stated that it even belonged to a victim and simply states that it was “found near Eddowes body.”
As for the DNA, it is suggested that scientist, Dr. Jari Louhelainen, of Liverpool’s John Moores University, a “Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology, Associate Professor of Biochemistry (University of Helsinki, Finland)[iii], has linked Aaron Kosminski through a sample left behind on the shawl by way of Kosminski’s sister’s distant relative who provided a sample of DNA for testing. Here is where the issue lies, the strand signature T1a1 is a “common type,” “thus, the determination doesn’t mean much unless the signature can be narrowed down to a rarer subtype”[iv].
The shawl, the item in question, purchased at auction, unfortunately passed through many hands before it reached Dr. Louhelainen for testing, thus it’s potential for contamination is unlimited. Addition things to consider; if this item was in evidence with other miscellaneous items from the Ripper investigation (or any other investigation), could it have been contaminated by other items, items possibly connected to Kosminski? Also, the shawl is not connected with Eddowes other than it was allegedly found at the murder site. Could the shawl have been placed at the murder site days, or weeks, prior to the Eddowes murder? Who can say for sure?
Now let’s examine the case of Aaron Kosminski. Kosminski was a Polish immigrant who resided in Whitechapel with his brother[v]. Sir Melville Macnaughten, had written a report in 1894 (14 years after the Ripper killings) naming three possible suspects in the Ripper cases, naming Kosminski as one possible suspect. However, it is noted that, “No public mention was made of these police-nominated suspects until Major Arthur Griffith’s book, Mysteries of Police and Crime was published in 1898[vi]”. When asked if he would testify as to the guilt of Kosminski in a court of law, Macnaughten stated he, “would not testify against a fellow Jew.[vii]”
In March of 1889, Kosminski was committed to Colney Patch Lunatic Asylum, and “… he was known to have suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, … had a hatred of women, [and] to have heard voices that gave him instructions.[viii]”
Now let’s consider the evidence, the stuff a case is built of. The shawl’s owner, Russell Edward’s says, “… put the case to bed. We’ve done this [solved the Ripper murders].[ix]” Even if the “common type” DNA match was reclassified as a less-common or distinct strain, to say that all the Ripper murders are solved based on DNA found on material located near a single crime (Catherine Eddowes) scene is balderdash – just plain idiocracy!
Kosminski spoke Yiddish not English[x] and although he did reside in Whitechapel it was not several until years after the Ripper crimes[xi]. Kosminski had a penchant toward prostitutes and he was said to hate women. Kosminski was a barber by trade with no refined education in human anatomy. His tool of trade was a barbers shaving razor, not a surgical tool. The medical examiners conducting the autopsies on the Ripper victims stated more than a general knowledge of anatomy would have been necessary to commit the Ripper crimes[xii].
There is a communal thread of DNA “T1a1” that is so common that any DNA evidence resulting in this shared strand is considered “inconclusive.” The shawl in question remains in question as there is no provenance to connect it to the crime scene and the contamination factor in a 126 year-old article of alleged evidence is much too ambiguous to be considered serious without further substantiation by expert collaboration by scientist in the field of DNA testing specifically in crime scene evidence.
The eyewitness accounts of men seen with the Ripper victims (highly believed that the Ripper was seen by one or more of his victims), stated the men seen were dressed in “fine” men’s attire and were “distinguished.” Kosminski, was not a refined man, and as such he was dressed as a typical immigrant barber, which could not be confused with a man of refinement. Kosminski does not fit the eyewitness reports or the profile based on crime files to the Ripper, hence why he was not considered a suspect until many years after the Ripper crimes and even then, the first mention of Kosminski was in a book. As a psychiatric patient with a long list of mental deformities, Kosminski did not possess the frame of mind, and the control, needed to commit the Ripper murders.
Last of all, we are told of the shawl, we are told of DNA testing, we are boldly told the case is solved, we are told… but where is the factual evidence? A case is built on evidence not on the uninformative recitation of some ambiguous evidence such as an article of clothing possibly tied to a killer via DNA through a distant relative on a sister’s side of the family some generations past who carries a “common strand” of DNA, which most people carry. Shame on Dr. Jari Louhelainen for buying into this propaganda. Kudo’s to Russell Edwards for designing a marketing tool that incites interest in his book, which has yet to be released, based on such a foolish premise. Oh, you didn’t realize that’s what this is all about, a marketing ploy? Don’t feel too bad, neither did I until I began to research this so-called theory.
If you would like to know more about the Ripper murders and what my theory is, please feel free to visit Amazon and type in my name. I can assure you that it is more plausible than an old piece of cloth and doubtable DNA, I provide case file evidence, Metropolitan Police reports, autopsy reports, photos of the victims and the crime scenes, and most of all, I present a theory and simply ask you to decide based on the testimonies and proofs provided.
[v] The Ultimate Jack The Ripper Sourcebook – An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Evans, Stewart P. Skinner, Keith Constable & Robinson LTD London. 2001
[vii] The Memorabilia Collection Jack the Ripper. Igloo Books LTD. 2112.
[x] Jack the Ripper The 21st Century Investigation. Marriott, Trevor. John Blake Publishing Inc. 2007. Page 237
[xii] Dr. H.H. Holmes and the Whitechapel Ripper. Ladwig, Dane. 2014