126 years after a series of murders which left the public shocked, a researcher and a novelist claim that they have solved once and for all the most famous cold case on the planet. Jack the Ripper it is alleged, killed and mutilated as many as five women in 1880’s- stunning the public into a panic that has not much abated as the years have passed on. Easily the most famous serial killer of modern times, the case of Jack the Ripper has remained one of the greatest unsolved murder mysteries in history- at least according to two men, until now.

Russel Edwards, a self-proclaimed “arm-chair detective” made the joint announcement on the heels of the release of his new book “Naming Jack the Ripper” released earlier this month. The evidence contained in the book has left the author speechless stating “I’m overwhelmed that after 126 years, I have solved the mystery.” While there has been no confirmation independent of the investigation performed by Edwards and his partner in crime- Jari Louhelainen- a molecular biology professor at Liverpool John Moores University, the evidence is quite compelling.

A very old shawl

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of forensic evidence to ever be put before a DNA analysis is woman’s shawl from the 1880’s. The shawl has been passed along over the years to various family members of one of the original investigating police officers and is said to purportedly have belonged to one of Jack the Ripper’s earlier victims, Catherine Eddowes. The shawl was subjected to DNA forensic testing performed under the supervision of both Edwards and Louhelainen, and supposedly contains trace biological material for a relative of Aaron Kosminski- a man once suspected of being the murderer. The shawl is now owned by Edwards after spending time in Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum and being placed up for auction in the year 2000 where Edwards purchased the odd heirloom. Edwards is wholly convinced of the shawl’s authenticity, however many DNA experts question is origins.

 Video: Jack The Ripper killer identity revealed

Author and “armchair detective” Russell Edwards bought a blood-stained shawl back in 2007 and now he claims to have solved the mystery. He says the shawl had vital DNA evidence on it revealing who Jack the Ripper was.

In what can only be described as good luck, for better or worse Jack the Ripper- whomever he really is- is not out continuing his crime spree. Whether he was every punished for a similar crime is up to historical conjecture. The facts in this present case- the DNA covered shawl notwithstanding- leave very much up to doubt. If the case was current and being tried in a modern day legal setting, the evidence would not stand up to much scrutiny due to serious chain-of-custody issues. In a given crime, evidence is collected, labeled and inventoried for later testing or use in a legal proceeding. In the case of the 120+ year old shawl of Catherine Eddowes- there was no adequate chain-of-custody to be sure. The simple fact that a law enforcement official removed the piece of clothing and took it home would certainly exclude it from any legal bearing in a trial. The simple fact that no one really knows where the exactly the shawl was all these years, who had access to it, and where it truly originated leaves a lot of room for a savvy defense attorney to have the garment tossed right out of court.

For now it seems, the latest news on Jack the Ripper might not really be news at all. If one wants to make the leap of faith that Edwards has in fact stumbled onto an earth-shattering discovery involving the true identity of the world’s best known unsolved serial murder case, you can make that assumption. Others, more cynical perhaps, may simply think that its a heck of a good way to announce a new book about Jack the Ripper.

More murder cases

In January, 2007, Wisconsin, Danyetta Lentz and her two children; Nicole Lentz aged 14 and Scott Lentz aged 17. The three were found murdered in their mobile home. The family was found strangled and forensic investigations led to the conviction of James Koepp.


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