LIVE SCIENCE: Questionable Science in a Famous London Cold Case

The Questionable Science Behind the New Jack the Ripper Claim

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By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor Live Science

Did the analysis of a silk shawl just provide a major clue in one of London’s coldest cases, the identity of Jack the Ripper?

No. It doesn’t. Not at all. That’s according to two experts, a geneticist and a Ripperologist (a Jack the Ripper historian), who spoke with Live Science about the new study.

In fact, this study has so many holes in it — including the provenance of the shawl, contamination of genetic material on the shawl, and the methods used to analyze this genetic material — that it’s a wonder it was published at all, said Turi King, a reader in genetics and archaeology at the University of Leicester, who was not involved in the study. [10 Biggest Historical Mysteries That Will Probably Never Be Solved]

Jack the Ripper is notorious for killing and mutilating five women in London in just three months during 1888. According to the new study, a silk shawl was found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, a victim killed by Jack the Ripper during the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 1888.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Somewhere there is a video of someone investigating these murders and discovered a startling clue. They were all in the same neighboring areas and nearly linear in location, according to the investigation these murders were carried out by one person who may be on his way to work in the early morning hours.
    I don’t believe it was Kaminski they named.

    • Yes, I saw that too, and although circumstantial it was quite compelling. My question always was: if the murdered woman was a prostitute (officially or unofficially, don’t make any difference) then to find a sample of semen there is not surprising, and the pool of suspects could be very large, depending on trade! So even if the shawl’a provenance is 100% genuine, there is no reason to infer that the biological sample (cough) is that of Jack the Ripper. Don’t you think?

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