Having a personal obsession with Jack the Ripper, when the news broke yesterday that the true identity of witty Jack had been revealed, I was awash with many feels, and they were mostly incredulous. After so many years and so many theories (and so many movies) was the truth actually out there? Part of me prefers the gothic romantic notion that he faded away into history, his needs satiated, his ritual completed, never to be seen again. However, the publication of a new book on the case has created a bit of a stormy debate (once again) over the identity of the historical slasher, now identified as Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski.
British newspapers are of course, all over this story and had this to report:
Russell Edwards, who describes himself as an “armchair detective”, believes he has identified the Victorian murderer for the first time after more than 120 years of mystery.
He said Kosminski, who died in an asylum, was “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the man behind the grisly killing spree in 1888 in Whitechapel.
Police had identified Kosminski as a suspect, Mr Edwards said, but never had enough evidence to bring him to trial.
Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, who led the investigation, recorded a suspect named "Kosminski" in contemporary notes, saying he was a low-class Polish Jew and had family living in Whitechapel.
The notes, donated by his descendants to Scotland Yard's Crime Museum in 2006, included a memorandum from Assistant Chief Constable Sir Melville Macnaghten saying Kosminski “had a great hatred of women…with strong homicidal tendencies”.
Using one of the only pieces of physical evidence remaining from the case, a blood-stained shawl belonging to one of the Ripper's victims Catherine Eddowes, was bought at an auction in 2007 having been passed down through generations in the family of one of the original officers assigned to the case who had stolen it as a gift for his wife - morbidly amazing, right? Also, highly suspect in terms of preservation of evidence...
As well as being soaked in Eddowes' blood, it was found to have traces of semen thought to belong to the killer - now, this little piece of evidence is something that I hadn't heard of before, the Ripper's cases were always thought to have been non-sexual in nature, but whether that was a function of "proper" English fact manipulation or not, I'll definitely have to do some more reading.
Mr Edwards said: “I've got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case.
“I've spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was.
"Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now - we have unmasked him."
Now, the assumption that only non-believers won't be buying this story is a bit insulting, the degradation of DNA evidence is quite the science in and of itself, and the survival of this evidence after 100 years is a fun bit of speculation, as is the assumption that the shawl is authentic...and if nothing else, while it might identify the killer of Catherine Eddowes, who was killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride, it doesn't necessarily prove anything else.
I might have to pick up this book, because now I'm intrigued and perhaps even more skeptical, but what you YOU think?
(Source: The Independent)