Infamous 'Jack the Ripper' serial killer might be identified through DNA, report says
Five women were killed within months in 1888 by "Jack the Ripper."
London's mysterious "Jack the Ripper" serial killer, who was active over 100 years ago, might finally be identified through mitochondrial DNA left behind at the scene of one of the crimes, according to a case report published in the Journal of Forensic Scientists.
"To our knowledge, this is the most advanced study to date regarding this case," the authors wrote.
In 1888, five women in London were killed within three months by a still-unidentified murderer known as Jack the Ripper.
A silk shawl, recovered from victim Catherine Eddowes, is the only known remaining physical evidence from the crimes, according to the report, published March 12. In a disturbing attack, Eddowes' uterus and left kidney were cut out.
The report's authors, Jari Louhelainen of Liverpool John Moores University and David Miller of the University of Leeds, examined the shawl for mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, which is passed down from a mother to her children.
Louhelainen and Miller said the data shows the shawl has biological material from Eddowes "and that the mtDNA sequences obtained from semen stains match the sequences of one of the main police suspects, Aaron Kosminski."
The DNA found at the scene were compared to maternal descendants of the victim and of Kosminski.
Kosminski was a Polish-Jewish immigrant who lived about 200 yards from where one of the victims was murdered, according to Yahoo News UK. Kosminski has been named as a possible suspect before, Yahoo reported.
Louhelainen and Miller also looked at phenotype analysis, analyzing the DNA for possible physical characteristics of the suspect. They said the results match with the only eyewitness account of Jack the Ripper -- that the suspect was a man with brown eyes and brown hair.
"Although these characteristics are surely not unique, they fully support our hypothesis," the authors wrote. "We have no reliable information on how common these phenotypic features were with males in London in 1888, but at the moment, blue eyes are more common than brown in England."
Though Jack the Ripper remains a mystery, Louhelainen and Miller called their report "the most systematic and most advanced genetic analysis to date regarding the Jack the Ripper murders."