Stop the presses! A new conspiracy theory has emerged about the identity of Jack the Ripper, the notorious serial killer who ruthlessly murdered five or six prostitutes in London’s Whitechapel district more than a century ago.
This time, DNA evidence supposedly points to a Polish Jewish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski, who spent his final decades locked up in an insane asylum.
According to British media reports, a shawl recovered from the scene of the murder of Catherine Eddowes was found to contain DNA of the victim and of Kosminski, who had been named at the time as a suspect in the murders.
The testing was arranged by the British owner of the garment, which was purchased at auction in 2007. The DNA on the shawl was cross-checked with that of Kosminski’s descendants, reports said. Kosminski died in 1919 in an asylum, where he had been institutionalized since 1891.
This new revelation is to be taken with a grain of salt, as are previous theories. DNA taken from the garment of a busy prostitute hardly constitutes conclusive evidence in a murder case, even if the science is correct, which is doubtful after more than 100 years.
Why has the Ripper’s identity intrigued the public for so many years? If numbers of victims were the only yardstick, Jack the Ripper would be small time. Dozens of kill-crazy men and women during the more than 12 decades since Jack’s outrageous killing spree have exceeded his ghastly toll. During the lifetime of many Americans alive today, monsters like John Wayne Gacy, “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, “Death Angel” Charles Cullen and good old Ted Bundy have each harvested many more souls while going about their deadly business. And that’s just a small sampling.
So it wasn’t numbers that guaranteed Jack the Ripper such chilling notoriety. It was the way he killed, the surgical skill he demonstrated while eviscerating his victims as if dressing a deer. It was where he killed – the narrow, mist-shrouded cobblestone streets of Whitechapel, a desperate and miserable slum, and it was the inability of police to catch him and put the mystery to rest.
Therefore it is not surprising that today, long after Jack the Ripper is suspected of killing a debatable sixth and final victim, researchers and crime historians are still adding occasional newcomers to the list of suspects.