Apparently, according to various news sources, Jack the Ripper has been revealed at last… But has he really? Forty eight year old businessman Russell Edwards, with the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen (Liverpool John Moores) is claiming to have finally proved once and for all that Polish hairdresser Aaron Kosminski was the notorious serial killer who plagued the East End during the late summer and autumn of 1888. The claim is based on DNA evidence, analysed by Dr Louhelainen, found on a shawl thaty reputedly belonged to Catherine Eddowes. The shawl, it is claimed, contained DNA evidence from Catherine Eddowes (in the form of blood) and from Kosminski (in the form of semen).
I hate to say this but although it is a quite compelling idea and one that certainly puts Kosminski in the frame, it isn’t definitive proof. That shawl has apparently been knocking around for nearly 130 years and so the chances of contamination and inaccurate results are extremely high. And according to the Independent proper procedures to avoid such a thing in the lab were not followed so make of that what you will. Then there’s the whole ‘semen sample’ thing… Ignoring the strong possibility of DNA contamination/ inaccurate results, all it proves is that at some point in time Kosminski ejaculated on or near that particular shawl. Now curiously, according to the reports, the shawl was of an eastern european extraction so there is a slight chance that it was brought to London by the Kosminski family when they moved from Poland. Then, somehow, it ended up in the possession of Cathy Eddowes. Perhaps it was a gift from Kosminski himself, perhaps before he supposedly killed her, or maybe she had borrowed it from Kosminksi’s sister for the evening… Or just perhaps it was a cast off that Eddowes eventually ended up with. The only problem with this is that it’s a bit of a coincidence, that she ended up with the same semen stained shawl as stained by one of the men eventually suspected of her murder. Also, if it did belong to Kosminski’s sister, you need to ask yourself how on earth his semen got onto it.
But let’s say the DNA evidence is correct… Let’s say Kosminski and Cathy Eddowes had sex that night in some darkened Whitechapel alley and, maybe, he gave her the shawl as part payment or to keep her warm in the cold east end night. Does that mean he murdered her? No… All it tells us is that Cathy Eddowes and Aaron Kosminski had sex that night. And hell, why is that unusual? She was a prostitute after all. She probably had four or five men that night, any one of whom could have been Jack.
But what if he did murder her as this DNA evidence hints at. That doesn’t mean he murdered the others. He may have been attempting a copycat killing or it may have just been that he killed her by accident and then covered his tracks by making it look like Jack did the murder. And even on the off chance that he is Jack there are still an awful lot of questions to be answered. Why did the murders stop so suddenly for instance? As I said earlier, this DNA is not proof, not by a long chalk, but it still offers a possible hint as to the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Then again it could all be a hoax and the thing is absolute tosh, which is far more likely.