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Did An Amateur Detective Solve The Jack The Ripper Mystery?

Russell Edwards is the latest in a number of investigators to name a suspect, but he claims to have DNA evidence on his side.

Did An Amateur Detective Solve The Jack The Ripper Mystery?
Illustrated London News
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An amateur detective and a scientist with time to kill claim they've discovered the identity of the U.K.'s most infamous serial killer: Jack the Ripper.

Businessman Russell Edwards says he became interested in the mystery after watching Johnny Depp's 2001 film "From Hell." He eventually purchased a shawl that was supposedly found near the body of one of the Ripper's victims.

In a Daily Mail exclusive, Edwards explains how he used DNA from the shawl to link Aaron Kosminski, a polish immigrant, to the crime scene. Kosminski, who was already a prime suspect in the case, was forcibly put into an insane asylum at the height of the murders and remained there until he died.

This is far from the first time someone has claimed to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

Just last year, a crime writer claimed her research indicated the Ripper was Walter Sickert, a well-known artist at the time.

And a 2009 Discovery documentary pointed the finger at Robert Mann, a morgue attendant.

So it's easy to understand why some media outlets are approaching Edwards' claims with a fair bit of skepticism. 

A writer for The Oregonian notes a number of reasons why Edwards' story on the origin of the shawl isn't exactly ironclad.

The shawl supposedly came from a police officer who took it from the scene of one of the murders and handed it down through his family. But there's no proof to back up that story other than a letter from the same family. (Video via Al Jazeera)

Edwards was assisted by a molecular biologist, but none of his findings have been published in a peer reviewed journal, making it impossible to verify his methodology just yet.

And, as The Independent points out, there is no way to ensure that the DNA wasn't contaminated either while being analyzed or sometime during the more than a century since it was discovered.

More can be read about Edwards' findings in his book, "Naming Jack the Ripper."