Jack l’Eventreur , le plus célèbre serial killer anglais de tous les temps vient d’être enfin démasqué … par un enquêteur amateur.
Everyone has heard or read about Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who was raging in London in the late 19th century, whose name originated in a letter written by someone claiming to be the murderer that was widely disseminated in the media. (Wikipedia)
Jack the Ripper murdered at least five prostitutes in the poor neighborhood of Whitechapel, London in 1888. The first victim was a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols, found slain and disemboweled in Whitechapel, on August 31, 1888. The second victim, Annie Chapman, was found in Durward Street, gutted with guts on the shoulder. The third is the murder of Elizabeth Stride, found dead at Berner Street, but not eviscerated as the killer probably did not have enough time to act. The fourth killing was that of Catherine Eddowes, found in Mitre Square. The last killing was that of Mary Jane Kelly, found mutilated in her bedroom on November 9 of the same year.
The victims were all prostitutes who occasionally worked in Whitechapel, which was a neighborhood well known for its massive immigration. In fact, lots of Jewish refugees from pogroms in Tsarist Russia and other areas of Eastern Europe emigrated there. Work and housing conditions had worsened, and a significant economic underclass had developed. Robbery, violence and alcohol dependency were commonplace, and the endemic poverty drove many women to prostitution. Three of the five murders were committed in the middle of the street. In fact, prostitutes often worked in public thoroughfare or in impasses.
Jack the Ripper is famous for his horrible way of killing. All the victims were found mutilated, eviscerated: their organs were taken, then placed in strategic places, for example bits of the kidneys and the uterus were removed.
The media, the police and numerous writers investigated many suspects. Among them, a name stood out, that of Aaron Kosminski, a Polish barber practicing in Whitechapel, interned for dementia shortly after the crimes. He was suspected by investigators Melville Macnaghten and Robert Anderson and was questioned at the time of the crimes, but released for lack of evidence.
Many writers have researched the case of Jack the Ripper. Indeed, essays such as Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed (2002) by American author Patricia Cornwell or The Complete Jack the Ripper by British crime historian Donald Rumbelow suggest there are many possible identities of the famous killer and retracing his story. But there are also novels such as Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper by Bob Garcia. His story was been adapted to comics and inspired many films such as Scoop by Woody Allen or Dr Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick.
Jack the Ripper was a myth that fascinated, and even obsessed a lot of people. Russell Edwards, a 48-year-old business man, is one of them. After seeing the Johnny Depp film From Hell in 2001, he spent 13 years of his life investigating the killer’s real identity, and just succeeded! Jack the Ripper is said to be Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant hairdresser, one of the most serious suspects. Kosminski was certainly very mentally ill, a paranoid schizophrenic probably suffering from auditory hallucinations and described then as a misogynist follower of what was called ‘self-abuse’ (i.e. masturbation).
But how did Edwards, this armchair detective, run his investigation one century after the crimes? He obtained a shawl found next to victim Catherine Eddowes in an auction in March 2007. The owner assured him he was a descendant of one of the police officers present at the scene of the crime.
The shawl was then passed on from generation to generation without ever being washed. As the shawl was clearly too precious to have belonged to destitute Eddowes, the Ripper seemed to have brought the shawl with him to the victim and thus left a precious clue behind. Edwards used the services of an expert in DNA analysis, Jari Louhelainen, who works with Interpol.On the shawl were found traces of semen and kidney cells. Thanks to the DNA from a descendant of the victim and from a descendant of Kominski’s sister, the Ripper was unmasked. But can one trust an armchair detective working on 126-year-old clues?
The myth and the mystery will survive…
Raphaelle EZERZER, Clémentine GOMEZ & Clémence MICHEL