After all these years of speculation about his true identity, it seems that Jack The Ripper finally has a name.
It's been 126 years since the world's most famous, perhaps infamous is a more appropriate word, serial killer murdered and mutilated his fifth and final victim. Mary Kelly was only 25 years old when her body was discovered on November 9, 1888, in London's East End Whitechapel neighborhood.
Theories about his identity ran rampant, including such candidates as a member of the royal family, a prominent surgeon, a famous artist, an American doctor, a Polish immigrant living in the neighborhood, and one case was even made for Jack The Ripper being a woman. I find it interesting that most images of Jack The Ripper, whether drawings from that time or modern depictions, show him dressed in formal gentleman's attire including a cape and top hat. A man dressed like that on the streets of Whitechapel at night in 1888 would definitely have been very noticeable to anyone living in the area.
Thanks to modern forensic science, a DNA match shows that Jack The Ripper is Aaron Kozminski, a Polish Jew who fled to London in the 1880s. He died in Leavesden Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53. Kozminski was one of the names on the list of strong suspects from the time of the murders but the police never had enough evidence to arrest him.
Russell Edwards, author of Naming Jack The Ripper (available as of September 9, 2014), bought a shawl in 2007 at an auction. Even though the shawl came without provenance, he was told that it belonged to Catherine Eddowes, the Ripper's fourth victim, and had been found near her body. After the auction he obtained a letter from the previous owner claiming his ancestor had been a police officer who was present at the murder scene and had taken the shawl.
Edwards handed the shawl over to Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes. He tracked down a descendant of Catherine Eddowes and a British descendant of Kozminski's sister, both of whom agreed to provide DNA. With a DNA match from the samples, the doctor stated that Aaron Kozminski was Jack The Ripper.
The evidence has not yet been independently verified.