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Jack the Ripper: DNA expert maintains he has solved history’s most notorious serial killer mystery

An “error of nomenclature” – those were the words used to dismiss claims made last year by British businessman Russell Edwards that he had solved the mystery of Jack the Ripper’s identity once and for all. But Dr Jari Louhelainen, the scientist Edwards recruited to help him ID the Ripper, stands by his work, telling Techly, “we have nothing to hide!”

In September 2014, Edwards announced with great fanfare – and a book to sell – that he had DNA evidence that ‘Jack’ was actually Aaron Kosminski.

Kosminski was one of the prime suspects of the day, and his incarceration coincided with the conclusion of the murderers in London’s Whitechapel accredited to the Ripper.

Edwards had purchased a piece of cloth found next to Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s five ‘canonical’ victims (some claim Jack was responsible for 11 deaths in total), with the suspicion that the cloth had in fact been placed there by the Ripper himself, a clue as to where he would next kill.

Edwards enlisted Dr Louhelainen, a historical crime-scene expert, to examine the piece of cloth. Lo and behold, Dr Louhelainen found more than just blood on the cloth – he says he also discovered semen.

The semen was found to have identifiable DNA, and by mapping it, a picture emerged of a dark-haired man of Russian Jewish ethnicity – a decent description of Kosminski, who was a Polish Jewish immigrant.

Aaron Kosminski - aka Jack the Ripper

Aaron Kosminski – AKA Jack the Ripper?

A descendant of Kominski’s sister donated a cheek swab DNA sample for comparison, and Dr Louhelainen “achieved a perfect 100 per cent match“.

But this is Ripperology we’re talking, so naturally people came out of the woodwork left, right and centre to dispute Dr Louhelainen’s work.

The big one was a piece published in The Independent, where “experts with detailed knowledge of the GMI’s mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] database” said Dr Louhelainen had made an error, identifying the common 315.1C gene mutation as the rare 314.1C mutation.

However, when asked about this error, Dr Louhelainen told Techly this single aspect hardly disproved his work.

“The marker you are referring is one of the mitochondrial DNA haplotype markers we analysed for one of the matches,” Dr Louhelainen wrote in an email. “Unlike what The Independent claims, the DNA profiling never relies on one DNA marker. However, they ‘forgot’ to mention this.

“However, the forensic professionals of course understood that we have the full haplotypes of both victim and the suspect on a same piece of physical evidence.”

And while the experts The Independent spoke to apparently dismissed the work, plenty of others have been eager to learn more.

“I am getting requests to give talks all over the world in forensic conferences,” Dr Louhelainen said. “In September I gave five talks at EAFS [European Academy of Forensic Science] 2015… a conference with more than 1000 forensic professionals.

“So the results of our Jack The Ripper project have already been presented to [a] scientific conference to top forensic specialist in the field.”

Perhaps the best way to end any speculation as to the reliability of Dr Louhelainen’s work would be for it to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. While this has yet to occur, Dr Louhelainen says he plans on having his work reviewed.

“The peer-review process was planned when we expected the interest to tone down. That was in late October I think,” he said. “In fact, I have now been booked for forensic events until May 2016 so getting this process, which sometimes takes over a year, had to be postponed.

“It would be the first regarding Jack The Ripper anyway, as Patricia Cornwell nor the Australian professor who claimed that Jack was a woman, never submitted their work to anywhere.”

Prominent American crime-writer Cornwell published two nonfiction books – 2002’s ‘Portrait of a killer: Jack the Ripper — case closed’ and 2014’s ‘Chasing the Ripper’ – in which she fingered British painter Walter Sickert as Jack.

The Aussie professor Dr Louhelainen is referring to is Dr Ian Findlay, whose work testing DNA on letters sent by the Ripper led him to the conclusion the stamp had been licked by a woman.

The latest Ripperologist to get serious column inches is Bruce Robinson (the writer and director of cult film Withnail and I, and writer of the Oscar winning The Killing Fields), who says in his book ‘They all love Jack’ that the case of the Ripper was never solved due to a Freemason conspiracy. Robinson makes a compelling case that the true Ripper was in fact Michael Maybrick, who was a prominent composer of the day.

But Russell Edwards is still absolute that Kosminski was history’s most notorious serial killer, and is now running a tour of London called ‘The Jack the Ripper Experience’ (which, though absolutely not scientific evidence, has a five-star rating on TripAdvisor based on nearly 200 reviews).

On the tour’s website, Edwards states, “At last, science has definitively answered the biggest mystery in criminal history. Jack the Ripper was Aaron Kosminski. And I, to my own great amazement, have nailed him.”

Dr Jari Louhelainen’s speaking commitments are keeping him busy, but Techly is aiming to have an in-depth interview with the professor in the coming weeks.

About the author

Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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Comment (4)

    Juanita Speirs

    Tuesday 10 November 2015

    I found the book They All Love Jack to be the most exhaustively researched book on the Ripper I have ever read. It’s a hefty 800 pages, but if you are really interested in the subject it’s well worth your while. It makes far more sense on many levels than anything else I’ve seen. I read the first Cornwell book but felt early on she had made the classic mistake of deciding who done it and then following only the evidence that supported her belief…a truly awful way to investigate anything.

    Reply

    andy nicholas

    Saturday 2 January 2016

    I don’t see that this so called piece of evidence is in any way conclusive. Where is the provenance to prove this cloth was actually found beside Ms Eddowes and does the semen actually prove Kosminski was actually the killer and not just a client? It all seems a bit forced to me.
    I still believe that William Bury is the best suspect but accept that there isn’t even remotely close to enough evidence to convict him.
    I don’t even think the the so called canonical five were all necessarily killed by the same hand.
    The sands of time, lack of real evidence and numerous theories have muddied the waters to well beyond a point where they can be truly clarified.

    Reply

    joey

    Tuesday 10 May 2016

    I have done research on this case and only one man fits in every way and that man is George Hutchinson!first Jack NEVER had sex with his victims so unless he cut himself there will be no D.N.A.! i looked at what kind of killer jack was,looked at the area,the lighting,the weather and many other things,we know for sure that two of the victims had there face cut up,now the kind of killer who would do this is one who knew those two girls.George knew both girls,he lived right in the middle of the murders so he knew the area well,the girls would have seen him around and there for would not be afraid of him.he was seen on the night of Mary Kellys murder yet did not go to police until three days later after he read that he had been seen! in his statement to police he said he talked to Mary and she asked to barrow money he told her he had none,then said she went with a man who looks like the ripper we see in movies,he said he followed them back to Marys and waited 45 minutes in the rain at one in the morning and when nobody came out he left.now i say why did he do this?(he was stalking her and waiting for the right time to strike)and if he cared enough to do that why did he not tell police the next day?he did not tell the police until he read he was seen by another lady walking to her friends who lived close to Mary.so he had to come forward.the reason police believed his story is they were not looking for a normal looking man,back then they thought only a hulking mad man who was crazy would do this.also remember just because the police believed him dont mean he is not there guy,the Yorkshire Ripper was talked to NINE TIMES before he was caught and that was in the 70’s and early 80’s.Jack AKA George Hutchinson killed more girls than the five they say,the killings only stopped after he left London in late 1890 or early 1891 and if somebody can track where he went they will find more murders,now they may look unlike the ripper murders but the cutting and taking organs will be there.there are other things i found that point to him and if you do your research you should spot these things.this man is the only man who fits in every way he is Jack the ripper!

    Reply

    Anthony Hough

    Wednesday 31 August 2016

    this thing about this guy knowing who jack the ripper is is pure speculation if there were any dna even left from back then and i really super dought it that there even is any dna left, i really think that the guy that he is claiming to be jack the ripper is just to poor to pull off some thing like that. it would take money to pull off that kind of thing not to Mencken getting away from the crime area in witch would take a careage or a wagon and a team of horses so ether way jack the ripper had some kind of help in getting to and from the crime area’s and it would take money my personal view is that jack the ripper is really the duke of Clarence of the royal family, this is my option and i would just about stake my life on it.

    Reply