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Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 96

From: dailymail.co.uk

It is the greatest murder mystery of all time, a puzzle that has perplexed criminologists for more than a century and spawned books, films and myriad theories ranging from the plausible to the utterly bizarre.

But now, thanks to modern forensic science, The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.

DNA evidence has now shown beyond reasonable doubt which one of six key suspects commonly cited in connection with the Ripper’s reign of terror was the actual killer – and we reveal his identity.

A shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

The landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.

Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.

The revelation puts an end to the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity which has lasted since his murderous rampage in the most impoverished and dangerous streets of London.

In the intervening century, a Jack the Ripper industry has grown up, prompting a dizzying array of more than 100 suspects, including Queen Victoria’s grandson – Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence – the post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert, and the former Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone.

 

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 97


Gruesome: A contemporary engraving of a Jack the Ripper crime scene in London’s Whitechapel

 

It was March 2007, in an auction house in Bury St Edmunds, that I first saw the blood-soaked shawl. It was in two surprisingly large sections – the first measuring 73.5in by 25.5in, the second 24in by 19in – and, despite its stains, far prettier than any artefact connected to Jack the Ripper might be expected to be. It was mostly blue and dark brown, with a delicate pattern of Michaelmas daisies – red, ochre and gold – at either end.

It was said to have been found next to the body of one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, and soaked in her blood. There was no evidence for its provenance, although after the auction I obtained a letter from its previous owner who claimed his ancestor had been a police officer present at the murder scene and had taken it from there.

Yet I knew I wanted to buy the shawl and was prepared to pay a great deal of money for it. I hoped somehow to prove that it was genuine. Beyond that, I hadn’t considered the possibilities. I certainly had no idea that this flimsy, badly stained, and incomplete piece of material would lead to the solution to the most famous murder mystery of all time: the identification of Jack the Ripper.

When my involvement in the 126-year-old case began, I was just another armchair detective, interested enough to conduct my own extensive research after watching the Johnny Depp film From Hell in 2001. It piqued my curiosity about the 1888 killings when five – possibly more – prostitutes were butchered in London’s East End.

Despite massive efforts by the police, the perpetrator evaded capture, spawning the mystery which has fuelled countless books, films, TV programmes and tours of Whitechapel. Theories about his identity have been virtually limitless, with everyone from Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence, to Lewis Carroll being named as possible suspects. As time has passed, the name Jack the Ripper has become synonymous with the devil himself; his crimes setting the gruesome standard against which other horrific murders are judged.

I joined the armies of those fascinated by the mystery and researching the Ripper became a hobby. I visited the National Archives in Kew to view as much of the original paperwork as still exists, noting how many of the authors of books speculating about the Ripper had not bothered to do this. I was convinced that there must be something, somewhere that had been missed.

By 2007, I felt I had exhausted all avenues until I read a newspaper article about the sale of a shawl connected to the Ripper case. Its owner, David Melville-Hayes, believed it had been in his family’s possession since the murder of Catherine Eddowes, when his ancestor, Acting Sergeant Amos Simpson, asked his superiors if he could take it home to give to his wife, a dressmaker.

Incredibly, it was stowed without ever being washed, and was handed down from David’s great-grandmother, Mary Simpson, to his grandmother, Eliza Smith, and then his mother, Eliza Mills, later Hayes.

In 1991, David gave it to Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum, where it was placed in storage rather than on display because of the lack of proof of its provenance. In 2001, David reclaimed it, and it was exhibited at the annual Jack the Ripper conference. One forensic test was carried out on it for a Channel 5 documentary in 2006, using a simple cotton swab from a randomly chosen part of the shawl, but it was inconclusive.

Most Ripper experts dismissed it when it came up for auction, but I believed I had hit on something no one else had noticed which linked it to the Ripper. The shawl is patterned with Michaelmas daisies. Today the Christian feast of Michaelmas is archaic, but in Victorian times it was familiar as a quarter day, when rents and debts were due.

I discovered there were two dates for it: one, September 29, in the Western Christian church and the other, November 8, in the Eastern Orthodox church. With a jolt, I realised the two dates coincided precisely with the nights of the last two murder dates. September 29 was the night on which Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were killed, and November 8 was the night of the final, most horrific of the murders, that of Mary Jane Kelly.

 

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 98


Found at the scene: Russell Edwards holds the shawl he bought in 2007, allegedly handed down from a policeman who took it from the scene, which had the incriminating DNA on it

 

I reasoned that it made no sense for Eddowes to have owned the expensive shawl herself; this was a woman so poor she had pawned her shoes the day before her murder. But could the Ripper have brought the shawl with him and left it as an obscure clue about when he was planning to strike next? It was just a hunch, and far from proof of anything, but it set me off on my journey.

Before buying it, I spoke to Alan McCormack, the officer in charge of the Crime Museum, also known as the Black Museum. He told me the police had always believed they knew the identity of the Ripper. Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, the officer in charge of the investigation, had named him in his notes: Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had fled to London with his family, escaping the Russian pogroms, in the early 1880s.

Kosminski has always been one of the three most credible suspects. He is often described as having been a hairdresser in Whitechapel, the occupation written on his admission papers to the workhouse in 1890. What is certain is he was seriously mentally ill, probably a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered auditory hallucinations and described as a misogynist prone to ‘self-abuse’ – a euphemism for masturbation.

McCormack said police did not have enough evidence to convict Kosminski, despite identification by a witness, but kept him under 24-hour surveillance until he was committed to mental asylums for the rest of his life. I became convinced Kosminski was our man, and I was excited at the prospect of proving it. I felt sure that modern science would be able to produce real evidence from the stains on the shawl. After a few false starts, I found a scientist I hoped could help.

Dr Jari Louhelainen is a leading expert in genetic evidence from historical crime scenes, combining his day job as senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University with working on cold cases for Interpol and other projects. He agreed to conduct tests on the shawl in his spare time.

The tests began in 2011, when Jari used special photographic analysis to establish what the stains were.

Using an infrared camera, he was able to tell me the dark stains were not just blood, but consistent with arterial blood spatter caused by slashing – exactly the grim death Catherine Eddowes had met.

But the next revelation was the most heart-stopping. Under UV photography, a set of fluorescent stains showed up which Jari said had the characteristics of semen. I’d never expected to find evidence of the Ripper himself, so this was thrilling, although Jari cautioned me that more testing was required before any conclusions could be drawn.

 

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 99


Obsession: Russell Edwards points to Hambury Street where one of the murders took place

 

He also found evidence of split body parts during the frenzied attack. One of Eddowes’ kidneys was removed by her murderer, and later in his research Jari managed to identify the presence of what he believed to be a kidney cell.

It was impossible to extract DNA from the stains on the shawl using the method employed in current cases, in which swabs are taken. The samples were just too old.

Instead, he used a method he called ‘vacuuming’, using a pipette filled with a special ‘buffering’ liquid that removed the genetic material in the cloth without damaging it.

As a non-scientist, I found myself in a new world as Jari warned that it would also be impossible to use genomic DNA, which is used in fresh cases and contains a human’s entire genetic data, because over time it would have become fragmented.

But he explained it would be possible to use mitochondrial DNA instead. It is passed down exclusively through the female line, is much more abundant than genomic DNA, and survives far better.

This meant that in order to give us something to test against, I had to trace a direct descendant through the female line of Catherine Eddowes. Luckily, a woman named Karen Miller, the three-times great-granddaughter of Eddowes, had featured in a documentary about the Ripper’s victims, and agreed to provide a sample of her DNA.

Jari managed to get six complete DNA profiles from the shawl, and when he tested them against Karen’s they were a perfect match.

It was an amazing breakthrough. We now knew that the shawl was authentic, and was at the scene of the crime in September 1888, and had the victim’s blood on it. On its own, this made it the single most important artefact in Ripper history: nothing else has ever been linked scientifically to the scene of any of the crimes.

Months of research on the shawl, including analysing the dyes used, had proved that it was made in Eastern Europe in the early 19th Century. Now it was time to attempt to prove that it contained the killer’s DNA.

 

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 100


Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders 101

 

 

The suspects: The long line of men believed to be Jack the Ripper include, from top left to right, Prince Albert Victor, Edward VII’s son, allegedly driven by syphilis-induced madness, Sir William Gull, Queen Victoria’s doctor, painter Walter Sickert, a Jewish shoemaker, a polish barber who later poisoned three women – and Kosminski

 

Jari used the same extraction method on the semen traces on the shawl, warning that the likelihood of sperm lasting all that time was very slim. He enlisted the help of Dr David Miller, a world expert on the subject, and in 2012 they made another incredible breakthrough when they found surviving cells. They were from the epithelium, a type of tissue which coats organs. In this case, it was likely to have come from the urethra during ejaculation.

Kosminski was 23 when the murders took place, and living with his two brothers and a sister in Greenfield Street, just 200 yards from where the third victim, Elizabeth Stride, was killed. As a key suspect, his life story has long been known, but I also researched his family. Eventually, we tracked down a young woman whose identity I am protecting – a British descendant of Kosminski’s sister, Matilda, who would share his mitochondrial DNA. She provided me with swabs from the inside of her mouth.

Amplifying and sequencing the DNA from the cells found on the shawl took months of painstaking, innovative work. By that point, my excitement had reached fever-pitch. And when the email finally arrived telling me Jari had found a perfect match, I was overwhelmed. Seven years after I bought the shawl, we had nailed Aaron Kosminski.

As a scientist, Jari is naturally cautious, unwilling to let his imagination run away without testing every minute element, but even he declared the finding ‘one hell of a masterpiece’. I celebrated by visiting the East End, wandering the streets where Kosminski lived, worked and committed his despicable crimes, feeling a sense of euphoria but also disbelief that we had unmasked the Ripper.

Kosminski was not a member of the Royal Family, or an eminent surgeon or politician. Serial killers rarely are. Instead, he was a pathetic creature, a lunatic who achieved sexual satisfaction from slashing women to death in the most brutal manner. He died in Leavesden Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53, weighing just 7st.

No doubt a slew of books and films will now emerge to speculate on his personality and motivation. I have no wish to do so. I wanted to provide real answers using scientific evidence, and I’m overwhelmed that 126 years on, I have solved the mystery.

Shawl that nailed Jewish Polish lunatic Aaron Kosminski and the forensic expert that made the critical match

By Dr Jari Louhelainen

When Russell Edwards first approached me in 2011, I wasn’t aware of the massive levels of interest in the Ripper case, as I’m a scientist originally from Finland.

But by early this year, when I realised we were on the verge of making a big discovery, working on the shawl had taken over my life, occupying me from early in the morning until late at night.

It has taken a great deal of hard work, using cutting-edge scientific techniques which would not have been possible five years ago.

To extract DNA samples from the stains on the shawl, I used a technique I developed myself, which I call ‘vacuuming’ – to pull the original genetic material from the depths of the cloth.

I filled a sterile pipette with a liquid ‘buffer’, a solution known to stabilise the cells and DNA, and injected it into the cloth to dissolve the material trapped in the weave of the fabric without damaging the cells, then sucked it out.

I needed to sequence the DNA found in the stains on the shawl, which means mapping the DNA by determining the exact order of the bases in a strand. I used polymerase chain reaction, a technique which allows millions of exact copies of the DNA to be made, enough for sequencing.

When I tested the resulting DNA profiles against the DNA taken from swabs from Catherine Eddowes’s descendant, they were a match.

I used the same extraction method on the stains which had characteristics of seminal fluid.

Dr David Miller found epithelial cells – which line cavities and organs – much to our surprise, as we were not expecting to find anything usable after 126 years.

Then I used a new process called whole genome amplification to copy the DNA 500 million-fold and allow it to be profiled.

Once I had the profile, I could compare it to that of the female descendant of Kosminski’s sister, who had given us a sample of her DNA swabbed from inside her mouth.

The first strand of DNA showed a 99.2 per cent match, as the analysis instrument could not determine the sequence of the missing 0.8 per cent fragment of DNA. On testing the second strand, we achieved a perfect 100 per cent match.

Because of the genome amplification technique, I was also able to ascertain the ethnic and geographical background of the DNA I extracted. It was of a type known as the haplogroup T1a1, common in people of Russian Jewish ethnicity. I was even able to establish that he had dark hair.

Now that it’s over, I’m excited and proud of what we’ve achieved, and satisfied that we have established, as far as we possibly can, that Aaron Kosminski is the culprit.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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Mysteries

A “mysterious explosion” in Sasovo in 1991 from the newly declassified CIA documents on UFO reports

A "mysterious explosion" in Sasovo in 1991 from the newly declassified CIA documents on UFO reports 114

Recently, 700 classified CIA documents were published simultaneously, which describe cases of observation of strange objects in the sky only observation (!). In them, among other things, they write about a strange case with a UFO in Russia that seems to be related to the explosion in Beirut a few months ago, and they allegedly said that the explosion was caused by large amounts of ammonia nitrate, ie fertilizers stored in port while nowhere in history has such an explosion been allegedly caused by fertilizers.

Black Vault site owner John Greenwald Jr. He said it took a lot of effort to persuade the CIA to declassify the UFO documents by sending thousands of requests to the agency under the Freedom of Information Act.

A case in Russia mentioned in these documents is related to the mysterious explosion in Sasovo, Russia in 1991. The strange explosion occurred in this city at night, shaking even large buildings.

The small town of Sasovo is located about 300 kilometers southeast of Moscow. At 1.34 a.m. on April 12, 1991, half a mile from the southwestern outskirts of the city, a huge explosion was heard. Many government buildings and private homes were blown up by the shockwave, windows were shattered and fragments were thrown as far as thirty kilometers away, reaching the town of Chuykovo.

At the site of the explosion, a huge crater was created with a diameter of about 28 meters and a depth of 3 to 4 meters. In the middle of the crater there was a large bulge of soil 3.5 meters in diameter. Huge chunks of icy soil were scattered around the crater up to two hundred meters away. 

The magnitude of the explosion was so strong that the frozen pieces were thrown to a huge height in the air, and fell and were nailed deep into the ground. According to experts who carefully examined the incident, they pointed out that 25 tons of explosives would be needed to create this effect.

Military experts, such as Colonel Prodan and fire chief Matveyev, with extensive experience in similar incidents, said that in their view, the explosion in Sasovo was unusual. They used it as an argument for this view, that there was a total absence of chemicals that are always found after an ordinary explosion. Also the earthen lump in the middle of the crater is not something that is found in such cases. Even the way the shockwave propagated did not match a “standard” explosion.

The newspaper Komsomolskaia Pravda, proceeded to cite some testimonies about the incident but without commenting and drawing conclusions. From the testimonies it emerged:

  • Immediately after the explosion, a sound was heard like that of a fighter plane flying away from the area, but without noticing it.
  • An eyewitness said two explosions were actually heard, followed by a flash of light, followed by the sound of a jet fighter. And he claimed that he did not see any aircraft.
  • Another witness said that just above the power lines, 100 meters from the crater, a bluish, arc-like glow was visible.

The Russian government attributed the explosion to a large amount of ammonia nitrate in a report, military experts categorically ruled out this version.

The official version spoke of an accidental explosion of ammonium nitrate fertilizers, but many people insisted that before the explosion, they saw a strange “moving fireball” in the sky and were sure it was a UFO.

It’s a similar story to the explosion in Beirut: The FBI did not officially determine the cause – It is estimated that it was caused by an accident .. Two US government sources, who have learned about the official report and analysis of the circumstances of the explosion, said that the US services are also very convinced that the explosion caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate, which was stored in a port building for years, was due to an accident.

Another incident of declassified records is a story that took place in January 1985, when the crew of a passenger plane en route from Rostov to Tallinn saw a strange object in the sky. The pilot who first spotted him at the beginning looked like an unusual star.

But suddenly a thin ray of light came out of this “star” and fell perpendicular to the ground, the ray of light splitting in two. All four people in the cockpit watched in surprise as two cones of light from the object fell on a white spot in the sky. While one pilot was wondering if he would report what they see in the control tower, at the risk of being considered insane. Suddenly, the white spot turned into a huge green cloud and then the pilot was forced to deviate from the course of the plane, because this object began to approach the plane at high speed at an angle.

After that, the crew contacted the air traffic controller at the nearest airport, it was Minsk Airport, and told them that they did not see anything unusual on their radars. However, the green cloud, meanwhile, began to follow the plane, “as if it were attached to it.” From inside the cloud, small lights shone, “like the lights of a Christmas tree.” 

The green cloud flew around the plane and one pilot shouted “Look, he’s imitating us!” as the “cloud” took the shape of a wingless plane. The cloud began to shine with yellow and green light. When the passengers of the plane were worried, the pilot told them that it was North Sela. It is reported that this cloud was seen by a pilot of another Tu-134 plane that flew in the same area,

In November 1955, one of the passengers on a train suddenly announced that he had seen a UFO in the sky. When he told the other passengers the lights went out and then they could see a “shadow” on the horizon in the sky. The shape of the object was not clear in the dark sky, but it looked like a half balloon with a small canopy at the top. 

The object was slowly rising vertically from the ground. At the top of its dome, a bright white light could be seen, and a pinkish-white glow along the perimeter of the “sphere”. The object was “like a small plane” in size and was about 3 km from the train. Suddenly, the passengers saw that the UFO stopped going up and suddenly moved in their direction, flying at high speed over the train and disappeared.

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Mysteries

The mystery of the Nazca geoglyphs: they can be a spaceship landing pad or a water delivery complex

The mystery of the Nazca geoglyphs: they can be a spaceship landing pad or a water delivery complex 115

The Nazca Lines are mysterious blueprints and signs that are found in the desert in southern Peru. They are about two thousand years old. Symbols in the form of signs, some of which resemble animal figures, have no analogues in the world. Scientists have been trying for years to figure out what meanings they have. It looks like a key has been found to the secret.

For many years, researchers have adhered to two versions. The Nazca Lines can represent either an alien spacecraft landing pad or a complex system of irrigation canals. Both versions one and the second have their advantages, but there was more evidence in favor of the irrigation system.

They were first discovered in 1940 by UFO hunters. From a bird’s eye view, the beauty of complex and simple patterns is mesmerizing. They traverse the barren desert south of Lima.

The mystery of the Nazca geoglyphs: they can be a spaceship landing pad or a water delivery complex 116

Ufologists believe that these geoglyphs serve as a kind of reference point for aliens. Archaeologists claim that the lines were created by the pre-Columbian civilization but their exact purpose is not clear. A group of engineers led by Carlos Hermida from Spain came to the conclusion that there is nothing mysterious about the lines. The Nazca Lines are nothing more than a complex system of irrigation canals.

Hermida believes that the mystery of the drawings was solved with the help of numerous convincing evidence. These lines, in his opinion, were created using a pre-Inca technique known as water harvesting.

The satellites have created a mosaic of nearly 4,000 photographs that can be used for detailed analysis of geoglyphs. The mosaic has 75 rows and 50 columns of images. In total, it covers an area of ​​about 2500 square kilometers in the desert. Engineers are confident that this complex system served for irrigation – water through canals filled dry areas to the desired moisture level.

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Mysteries

There are many mysteries in the Sahara Desert but scientific and archaeological expeditions are prohibited

There are many mysteries in the Sahara Desert but scientific and archaeological expeditions are prohibited 117

Throughout the history of this African desert, tens of thousands of people have gone missing in its vicinity, and this is only according to official data. The sand is much more destructive than the ill-fated Bermuda Triangle. This is understandable, five thousand kilometers covered with sand.

Scientists know for certain that millions of years ago there were rivers, lakes, flowering gardens and, most likely, even the ocean in the desert, since numerous whale fossils were found in the sands.

There are many mysteries in the Sahara Desert but scientific and archaeological expeditions are prohibited 118

The ruins of cities, underground canals, through which water once flowed, were discovered. In one of the Sahara caves, ancient drawings and hieroglyphs were found, depicting humanoid creatures, around which there was greenery and water. There are a lot of mountains in the desert, where people have never been.

Perhaps the most mysterious place in the Sahara is rocky terrain with melted earth and traces of radiation. At this place, according to scientists, an explosion of incredible power thundered. There is a theory that all this is due to the fall of a meteorite.

This is confirmed by the chemical elements that scientists find in glass and iron. These elements are of unearthly origin, and most likely came to us with a meteorite. Moreover, the crater itself is hidden somewhere under the sands, and has not yet been found.

There are many mysteries in the Sahara Desert but scientific and archaeological expeditions are prohibited 119

If you look at the desert from space, then the first thing that can be seen is the rings, called the eyes of the Sahara, with a diameter of more than fifty kilometers. There are rocky rocks near the rings that are not found anywhere else on Earth. The stones themselves are most likely solidified lava.

But all these secrets and riddles are not studied in detail, since archaeological and scientific expeditions are officially prohibited on the territory of the Sahara, due to safety. On the territory of the desert, armed conflicts constantly occur, which are a great risk for scientists. This is what official sources say.

There are many mysteries in the Sahara Desert but scientific and archaeological expeditions are prohibited 120

The desert can be easily studied from space, by analogy with, for example, Mars, where in the infrared range, with the help of orbiting satellites and telescopes, you can recognize artifacts, as well as make new discoveries. Unfortunately, this does not happen.

The Sahara Desert, along with the oceans of the Earth, remains the least studied.

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