DNA Naming Error Puts Jack the Ripper Forensic Discovery in Doubt

By Matt Hill on at

Finally convinced yourself that Polish immigrant barber Aaron Kosminski was absolutely, definitely, for the last time of asking, Jack The Ripper of Whitechapel because DNA evidence told you so? Well, this just in: he probably wasn't.

It isn't exactly surprising news, in that the most recent revelations of a blood-soaked silk shawl, preserved untouched for years, apparently confirming the identity of East London's infamous 1888 serial killer, were timed, as ever, to coincide with a book tour and newspaper serialisation.

But now the molecular biologist that Naming Jack the Ripper writer Russell Edwards hired to carry out forensic testing on said shawl, Dr Jari Louhelainen from Liverpool John Moores University, has been accused by several experts – including Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys who, as the inventor of genetic fingerprinting, should know his stuff – of making an "error of nomenclature" when using a DNA database. His crime? Writing down the mutation down as "315.1C" and not "314.1C", as is standard practice.

The mistake was first spotted on Australian crime fan site Casebook.org and, in layman's terms, means that what Dr Louhelainen identified was actually not rare at all but shared by more than 99 per cent of European people. To heap more cold water on the whole Ripper fire, the good doctor's research has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal and he's also not answering calls for comment from the press.

So we're still hedging our bets, then. In the meantime: all Ripper conspiracies are now back in play! Back to From Hell for clues… [The Independent]

Image Credit: Evil doctor at Shutterstock