Could DNA evidence suggest Aaron Kosminski was Jack the Ripper?

Catherine Eddowes was brutally murdered on September 30, 1888. Catherine was the second victim in the so called "double event". Elizabeth Stride was murdered earlier that evening.

On the night Catherine Eddowes was murdered a shawl was reported to have been left close to the body. This shawl ended up in the possession of David Melville-Hayes. He suggests Acting Sergeant Amos Simpson had previously asked his superiors if he could take it home to give to his wife, a dressmaker. Allegedly the shawl was taken home, stowed away and was never washed. The story told suggests Melville-Hayes's great-grandmother passed the shawl down to Mary Simpson, then to his grandmother, Eliza Smith, and then his mother, Eliza Mills, later Hayes.

in 1991 David Melville-Hayes passed the shawl to Scotland Yard's Crime Museum. It was never on display as the provenance of the shawl could not be guaranteed. David later took re-possession of the shawl and it was shown at a subsequent Jack the Ripper conference.

The shawl would have been expensive to buy. Catherine was shown to have pawned items in the days leading to her murder, so it was unlikely she was the owner. This is a theory Russell Edwards subscribes to. Russell Edwards, a Birkenhead-born businessman, purchased the shawl at auction in 2007. He acknowledges there is no provenance for the shawl. The shawl is reported to have DNA on it from both the murder victim and the killer.

Enter Dr Jari Louhelainen, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at Liverpool John Moores University! DrLouhelainen extracted 126-year-old DNA from the shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes. Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to prove a 100% match that the DNA belonged to Polish migrant Aaron Kosminski. Dr Louhelainen said that dark blood stains were “consistent with arterial blood spatter caused by slashing”.

Aaron Kosminski was very poor and born during the 1860's. Anti-Semitism in Russia was very high during his youth, and perhaps was the reason that his family left Russia around 1881.

The scientific analysis of the shawl and search for descendants of Catherine Eddowes and Kosminski took over three years.

However a report in the Independent states Dr Jari Louhelainen is said to have made an "error of nomenclature" when using a DNA database to calculate the chances of a genetic match.

Four experts, which incude Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of genetic fingerprinting, believe an error was made by Dr Louhelainen.They say the error means no DNA connection can be made between Kosminski and Eddowes. Any suggestion therefore that the Ripper and Kosminski are the same person appears to be based on conjecture and supposition.

Experts with detailed knowledge of the GMI's mtDNA database claimed that Dr Louhelainen made an "error of nomenclature" because the mutation in question should be written as "315.1C" and not "314.1C". Had Dr Louhelainen done this, and followed standard forensic practice, he would have discovered the mutation was not rare at all but shared by more than 99 per cent of people of European descent.


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