The name “Jack the Ripper” may seem like one of the many catchy names coined from some horror film or the stuff of legends, however, the name was coined after a real-life serial killer in the 1800s. Even more shocking is that scientists claim that they have now uncovered the identity of the killer almost two centuries later thanks to DNA evidence.
A prolific serial killer of Polish descent
Jack the Ripper was a notorious serial killer who was known for his gruesome murders of mostly women during the end of the 19th century. Scientists from the Liverpool John Moores University are convinced that they have uncovered vital details about the serial killer’s origins based on tests conducted on samples of DNA believed to belong to the killer. The researchers believe that Jack the Ripper’s true identity was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish barber.
If the scientists are right, then a barber might have been a perfect cover for the serial killer, and perhaps the reason why he was never caught despite a massive manhunt. He was hiding in plain sight. The genetics test was part of a joint initiative between the researchers and Emilia Fox as part of a BBC One documentary which she hosts.
The scientists evaluated the samples from a bloody shawl that was associated with two of the killer’s murders in 1888. The actual number of Jack the Ripper’s victims is unknown, but it is believed that he brutally murdered six women in 1888. The names of the victims are Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly and Martha Tabram.
Leveraging modern technology to solve crimes
Scientists used modern forensic technology to evaluate the samples collected from the shawl. It is rather impressive that technology has advanced so much that it can now be used to solve crimes that happened more than a century ago. Meanwhile, Kosminski’s victims had some things in common that made them ideal targets for Jack the Ripper. For example, they were alcoholics and came from poor backgrounds.
There were numerous suspects that authorities suspected to have been the serial killer and Kosminski was always one of them. He was one of the prime suspects, but there was not enough evidence to support the suspicion. Scientists collected DNA from Kosminski’s known living descendants and compared it to the mitochondrial DNA derived from the Shawl. The scientific methods and technology used in the Jack the Ripper case highlight just how good and effective our currently available technology has become.