A self-confessed armchair detective states that he has discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper. He claims to have solved what was possibility the most notorious whodunit of modern times. Russell Edwards from Barns, North London, claims that a 23 year old polish immigrant hairdresser, Aaron Kosminski was "definitely, categorically and absolutely" the man behind the grisly killing spree that lasted from 3rd of April 1888 to13th February 1891, terrorizing London's Whitechapel district. Mr. Edwards claims that a blood stained shawl, which he brought at an auction at Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk in 2007, holds the vital DNA evidence that proves his claim. Russell Edwards's claim of Aaron Kosminski's guilt, relies upon an untested method of ascertaining a mitochondrial DNA link. The fact that the DNA results have not been verified by any independent experts or specialists in mitochondrial DNA, would cast some doubt upon Mr. Edwards claims. Especially as the results were released through the tabloid press, as opposed to publishing his findings in a scientific peer reviewed journal.
The shawl in question is claimed to have been taken from the body of Catherine Eddowes, by acting Sargent Amos Simpson, who was on duty the night of Catherine Eddowes death. The blood soaked shawl had been stored away and passed down through the generations, until it came up for auction seven years ago. Mr. Edwards contacted Dr. Jari Louhelainen, an expert in molecular biology. Dr. Louhelainen applied a little used DNA technique to find blood samples on the shawl from Catherine Eddowes and that of her killer. Edwards and Louhelainen then enlisted the help of DNA specialist Dr David Miller who found human cells on the shawl, these appeared to come from a man's seamen. The finding of a seamen stain on the shawl is much harder to explain. Ripper historian Richard Cobb claims that the seamen stain could be explained by Kosminski's history of associating with prostitutes.
The fact that Catharine Eddowe's mitochondrial DNA was found on the shawl becomes much less impressive when we consider that the shawl in question had been passed down, over the generations from maternal descendants in her family, any of which could have unwittingly contaminated the evidence by added the same DNA. If the DNA could traced to a patch of blood found on the shawl that would be proof enough, but if it had come from elsewhere, then that would cast doubt upon the evidence. On average approximately 4% of the population share maternal DNA. This DNA may have been rare in the 19th century, which would suggest a lower percentage match. One cannot rule out the possibility that another person with the same haplogroup DNA could have committed the murder. The case against Kosminski would be strengthened if other descendants of the ripper suspects could be tracked down and tested, to prove that they do not have the same DNA as Kosminski.
In 1891 the unsolved deaths of eleven women were linked together in a single police investigation which became known as the Whitechapel Murders. The victims, Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nicholes, Annie Chapman. Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly, Rose, Mylett, Alice McKenzie, Frances Coles, and a unified woman were all working as prostitutes in London's East End. Eddowes and Stride were killed on the same night less than a mile apart. These murders were nicknamed the "double event "by the press of the day.
Sir Robert Anderson, the Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner, requested that Chief Inspector Donald Swanson head the investigation. Swanson's team comprised of Inspector Edmond Reid, the head of H-division detectives. Frederick Abberline, The head of the on-site investigation. Melville Macnaghten, Chief Constable of Scotland Yard. It was Macnaghten who made the emphatic statement that Jack the ripper had "only five victims and five victims only." The final member of Swanson's team was Major Henry Smith, the acting City of London Commissioner. Due to the fact that the murder of Catherine Eddowes, Jack the ripper's fourth victim, took place within the boundary of the City of London, which at that time had its own police force. Major Smith was invited to join the investigation by Sir Robert Anderson.
Chief Inspector Donald Swanson. Who was leading the investigation into the ripper murders, believed that he had solved the case. He claimed to know who Jack the ripper was, but could not arrest the suspect, "because the only person who had a good view of the murder would not give evidence". The accused and the witness were both Jews, and as such the witness was not willing to give evidence against a fellow Jew. However Melville Macnaghten later stated in his biography that, "no one ever saw the Whitechapel murderer." This directly contradicts Swanson's statement. Sir Henry Smith who was at the time of the murders, acting Commissioner of the City of London Police. Described in his journal, that the statement was "a reckless accusation against Jews."
What of the Kosminski himself? Of all the five suspects that the police believed could be responsible for the Whitechapel murders, Aaron Kosminski would appear to be the most likely person to have committed these crimes. The Chief Constable of Scotland Yard Melville Macnaghten, stated "This man became insane owing to his many years of his indulgence in solitary vices. He had a hatred of women, especially of the prostitute class, and strong homicidal tendencies". Aaron Kosminski was a Jewish immigrant, born in the Polish town of Klodawa, at that time part of the Russian Empire. He immigrated to England with his family in 1881. Arriving at Grenfiels St Whitechapel, an impoverished slum in London's East End. This area had become home to many European Jewish refugees who were fleeing the hardships of Tsarist Russia. On two occasions in July 1890 and February 1891, Kosminski was detained at the Mile End Old Town Workhouse, because of his erratic behaviour. Having been diagnosed by doctors as schizophrenic, delusional, and incoherent. He believed that a higher power spoke to him and controlled his actions. He also claimed "to know the movements of all mankind." It is interesting to note that throughout his period of confinement Aaron Kosminski was never classed as violent and his records show "that he poses no danger to others". Aaron Kosminski was then sent to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum. Where he remained for three years until he was admitted to the Leaversden Asylum on 19th April 1894. He remained here until his death in February 1919. He died aged 53, weighing only 96 pounds (44 Kg).The official cause of death was recorded in the asylum records as "Gangrene of the leg."
Aaron Kosminski had a paranoid fear of being feed by other people. This caused him to pick up and eat food from the gutter. His poor diet appears to have been the reason for his weight loss over the years, and was ultimately a contributing factor in his death. From the above evidence it would appear that the police forces at the time were fragmented, with a multi layered command structure across several police authorities which included the City of London Police, and the Metropolitan Police Service. In addition to the official investigation, there were the Whitechapel vigilantes. A group of individuals under the leadership of George Lusk, who decided to take the law into their own hands after seeing little or no progress being made by the authorities. The absence of cooperation between all the interested parties resulted in each of these fractions claiming that they alone had solved the ripper case. In all the ensuing confusion and lack of collaboration, vital evidence went missing. This combined with the absence of any communication between the participating police force's, leads one to believe that amidst all this confusion, it would be possible for the police to colluded in having Aaron Kosminski committed to a mental asylum Insinuating that he was Jack the Ripper. This would tidy up all the loose ends keeping all reputations intact, and neatly closing the most notorious crime of Victorian England.