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In the early morning hours of September 30, 1888, police discovered the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes, her throat slit and left kidney removed, in London’s Mitre Square. Eddowes had been the second prostitute inside of an hour found murdered in that section of the city, and the slaying bore the grisly signatures of the serial killer who for weeks had been terrorizing London’s East End—Jack the Ripper.
As police from Scotland Yard completed their work, Acting Sergeant Amos Simpson reportedly made an odd request to take home a blood-splattered shawl—blue and dark brown with a pattern of Michaelmas daisies at either end—found at the crime scene as a gift for his seamstress wife. His superiors granted permission, but unsurprisingly, the present was not well received.
Simpson’s horrified wife stashed the seven-foot-long fabric found next to Jack the Ripper’s fourth victim in a box. It was never worn or washed as the search for one of the world’s most notorious killers grew colder and colder. The person responsible for killing at least five Londoners between August and November 1888 was never found, and authorities officially closed the file in 1892.
Who Was Jack the Ripper?
The slayings never faded from public consciousness, however. Legions of “Ripperologists” have developed their own theories over the decades, and the lineup of possible suspects has included the father of Winston Churchill, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll, and Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria and second in line to the British throne.
Some have even speculated that Jack the Ripper was in actuality Jill the Ripper, and female suspects include Mary Pearcey, who was executed in 1890 after butchering her lover’s wife and child with a carving knife in a similar manner to the notorious serial killer.
The Victorian-era shawl reportedly taken by Simpson passed from generation to generation of the policeman’s descendants until it was put up for auction in 2007 and purchased by Russell Edwards, an English businessman and self-confessed “armchair detective” who was fascinated by the coldest of cold cases. Although the silk fabric was frayed and aging, it still contained valuable DNA evidence since it was never washed.
Did DNA Analysis Find the Killer?
Now, after more than three years of scientific analysis, Russell says that Jack the Ripper’s true identity has been found interwoven in the ragged, 126-year-old shawl, and he fingers Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski as the serial killer in his book “Naming Jack the Ripper.”
Edwards enlisted forensic geneticist Dr. Jari Louhelainen of Liverpool John Moores University in 2011 to study the shawl using a level of analysis that was only possible in the last decade. Louhelainen identified the dark splotches on the shawl as stains “consistent with arterial blood spatter caused by slashing.” He also discovered evidence of split body parts, consistent with a kidney removal, as well as the presence of seminal fluid.
Louhelainen found the mitochondrial DNA taken from the shawl matched that taken from Karen Miller, a direct descendant of Eddowes, as well as a female descendant of Kosminski’s sister, Matilda, who provided swabs of mitochondrial DNA from the inside of her mouth.
Police who worked the case at the time of the murders would not have been surprised to see Kosminski’s name linked to the crime. At the time of the murders, Kosminski was among the handful of primary suspects. The youngest of seven children, Kosminski was born in Klodawa, Poland, in 1865. After the death of his father, the family fled the pogroms flamed by Poland’s Russians rulers and immigrated to London’s Whitechapel section in 1881.
Likely a paranoid schizophrenic, Kosminski, whose occupation was listed as hairdresser, was admitted into an asylum in 1891 after attacking his sister with a knife. In the mid-1890s, a witness identified him as the person attacking one of the victims but refused to testify. Lacking any hard evidence, police never arrested Kosminski for the crimes. He remained institutionalized until his death in 1919 from gangrene.
Edwards has long theorized that the shawl was of too fine a quality to have been worn by a London prostitute and belonged to Jack the Ripper, not Eddowes. Using nuclear magnetic resonance, another Liverpool John Moores University scientist, Dr. Fyaz Ismail, determined that the fabric’s age predated the 1888 murders and was likely made near St. Petersburg, Russia. The region of Poland where Kosminski was born was under Russian control, and it would not have been unusual for Russian goods to have been traded there.
“I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was,” Edwards told London’s Independent newspaper. “Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now—we have unmasked him.”
‘Ripperologists’ Weigh In
Many Ripperologists, however, are not so certain. The report has generated plenty of skeptics, some of whom have noted that the laboratory analysis has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and that Louhelainen was only able to test mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from mothers to children and offers much less of a unique identifier than nuclear DNA. Many people can share similar mitochondrial DNA signatures.
Other critics refute the notion that Simpson was even at the crime scene the night of the Eddowes murder and note that the shawl may have been contaminated over the decades since it has been held by many members of the Eddowes family.
In addition, this is not the first time that DNA evidence has supposedly cracked the case. American crime novelist Patricia Cornwell asserted that DNA samples found on the taunting letters sent by Jack the Ripper to Scotland Yard matched those of post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert.
And a 2006 study by Australian scientist Ian Findlay extracted DNA from the saliva on the letters and determined that it was likely that the sender was a woman. So even with the latest news, it’s unlikely the debate on Jack the Ripper’s identity will suddenly abate.
Jack the Ripper’s identity may finally have been revealed as a Polish barber, claim scientists using DNA from scene
JACK the Ripper who stalked London more than 130 years ago was a demon barber with a taste for human flesh, according to startling new scientific evidence.
A blood-covered shawl found at one of the murder scenes is believed to contain DNA from both butchered victim Catherine Eddowes and the world's most infamous serial killer.
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University conducted genetic tests on the sample long-thought to have belonged to the Ripper himself, who they now believe to be Pole Aaron Kosminski.
“We describe for the first time systematic, molecular level analysis of the only surviving physical evidence linked to the Jack the Ripper murders,” the authors wrote in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
“Finding both matching profiles in the same piece of evidence enhances the statistical probability of its overall identification and reinforces the claim that the shawl is authentic.”
The bloody shawl is linked to the double murder of victims three and four, Elizabeth Stride and Eddowes, on the night of Sept. 30, 1888 in Whitechapel.
Stride’s throat had been cut, but the rest of her body was mostly intact - unlike most of the infamous killer's victims.
It's long been thought that the Ripper - said to have killed anywhere between five and 18 women - had been interrupted in his work and was still on the hunt for more unfortunate victims.
An hour later he butchered Eddowes tearing her apart and taking her kidney as a trophy - before sending the sickening ɿrom Hell' letter in which he claimed he had eaten it.
Five women — Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly — are widely held to have been victims of the Ripper, although later murders were attributed to him.
WHO WAS JACK THE RIPPER: THE SUSPECTS
- Montague John Druitt - schoolmaster who died by suspected suicide
- George Chapman - barber who was hanged for poisoning three of his wives
- Aaron Kosminski - lived in Whitechapel and was admitted to an asylum in 1891
- James Maybrick - Liverpudlian cotton merchant murdered by his own wife but had a diary confessing to the murders
- Thomas Neill Cream - doctor found guilty of poisoning many women and hanged in 1892
- Thomas Heynes Cutbush - doctor with syphilis in the brain known to have stabbed multiple women
- Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale - it was alleged he fathered a child in the Whitechapel area and suspected either he or several others committed murder on his behalf to hide the indiscretion
All were murdered in the most brutal fashion imaginable around the Whitechapel area. Their bodies were utterly mutilated, many of them being disembowelled.
Chapman's uterus was taken, Eddowes had her uterus and a kidney removed and her face mutilated, and Kelly's body was completely destroyed and her face hacked away.
Such was the fear at the time that the streets of London emptied after nightfall, leaving the once bustling Victorian capital deathly silent while the Ripper roamed the streets.
Now in an astonishing new article featured in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, fresh genetic evidence now points to 23-year-old Kosminski.
This isn’t the first time Kosminski has been linked to the crimes. But it is the first time the supporting DNA evidence has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
This was "confirmed" after comparing fragments of mitochondrial DNA taken from the shawl with those taken from Kosminski's known living descendants.
Investigators identified Kosminski as their prime suspect in the killings in 1888. However, they did not have enough proof to solve the case.
The DNA testing suggests that the Ripper had brown eyes and brown hair. This matches evidence from eyewitness reports.
The researchers say their new study provides "the most systematic and most advanced genetic analysis to date regarding the Jack the Ripper murders."
And it's not the first time DNA evidence has pointed to Kosminski as the killer.
Jari Louhelainen, a biochemist at LJMU and one of the coauthors of the current study, first conducted testing on the suspect's DNA years earlier.
Forensic Science Has Finally Identified ‘Jack the Ripper’
Jack the Ripper, one of the most legendary serial killers in recorded history, has been identified — 131 years after he stalked the streets of London.
From August until November 1888, a faceless serial killer hunted in the poorest parts of London. “Jack the Ripper,” also known as the “Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron,” is believed to have slain at least five women: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.
Their throats were cut, their abdomens mutilated. Sometimes their organs were removed. Newspapers sensationalized the brutal killings for sales, and the story remained profitable to the tune of dozens of books, movies, and songs. Jack the Ripper became an icon of the deadly and depraved, yet no one was ever charged with his crimes. The mystery remained.
Now, more than a century after his reign of terror, forensic scientists have pinpointed his identity from a list of over 100 hypothetical possibilities. Primary police suspect, a then 23-year-old Polish barber by the name of Aaron Kosminski, is Jack. And while he died in an asylum by 1919, he left behind a vital clue to his bloody past.
Eddowes, Kosminski’s fourth victim, was found on September 30, 1888, allegedly near a shawl stained with blood and semen. Forensic scientists, led by microbiologist Jari Louhelainen, were able to sample mitochrondrial DNA from those traces to a living descendant of Kosminski, all but proving his guilt.
Still, some remain skeptical. Critics have complained that there is a lack of information on “specific genetic variants” in the report, and challenge the shawl as viable evidence. There is no way to conclusively prove that it was found on the scene, or that it was not somehow contaminated.
“On the testing, the first result showed a 99.2 percent match. Since the DNA has two complementary strands, we went on and tested the other DNA strand, which game a perfect 100 percent match,” Louhelainen told the Liverpool Echo in 2014.
Has Jack the Ripper's identity finally been revealed?
For over a century the identity of notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper has baffled criminologists but modern DNA technology has finally solved the mystery, it has been claimed.
Polish man Aaron Kosminski has been named by a world renowned DNA expert as the killer behind the 1888 murders of at least five women in London's Whitechapel.
ITV News' Luke Farrington reports.
Dr Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer of molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University came to the conclusion after analysing a shawl belonging to one of the victims, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The item of clothing found by the body of the Ripper's fourth victim Catherine Eddowes, which was bought at auction by businessman Russell Edwards, 48, who then enlisted Dr Louhelainen's help.
Edwards told the Mail on Sunday a police officer at the scene had taken the shawl home for his wife and it had been handed down from there.
He said: "Incredibly, it was stowed without ever being washed," adding the previous tests on the garment had proved inconclusive.
After buying the shawl, Edwards passed it to Dr Louhelainen, who analyses evidence from historical crime scenes, in 2011.
By comparing DNA from the shawl to DNA from the victim's relatives and the suspects, Dr Louhelainen concluded that Kosminski was the killer.
Kosminski was 23 when the murders took place, and living with his two brothers and a sister just 200 yards from where the third victim, Elizabeth Stride, was killed, on the same night as Eddowes, Edwards said.
The Polish hairdresser was committed to mental asylums and died aged 53 in Leavesden from gangrene.
He told the Mail on Sunday : "He is often described as having been a hairdresser in Whitechapel, the occupation written on his admission papers to the workhouse in 1890."
Dr Jari Louhelainen who also works on cold cases for Interpol and other projects conducted tests on the shawl in his spare time, but he is convinced that they have caught their killer.
He said: "Now that it’s over, I’m excited and proud of what we’ve achieved, and satisfied that we have established, as far as we possibly can, that Aaron Kosminski is the culprit."
Jack the Ripper identified by DNA evidence, forensic scientists claim
Scientists believe they've finally identified Jack the Ripper with DNA testing. USA TODAY
Researchers say they have finally unmasked Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who terrorized London in the late 1800s.
A forensic investigation published in Journal of Forensic Sciences has identified the killer as Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber and prime suspect at the time.
Kosminski was previously named as a suspect over 100 years ago and once again in a 2014 book by British businessman and Ripper researcher Russell Edwards. But the latest finding marks the first time that Edwards' DNA evidence has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, according to the magazine Science.
“To our knowledge, this is the most advanced study to date regarding this case,” the study authors wrote.
Jack the Ripper is believed to have killed at least five women in the Whitechapel district of London between August and November of 1888. Researchers Jari Louhelainen and David Miller ran genetic tests on a silk shawl stained with blood and semen that investigators say was found next to the body of the killer’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, Science reported.
Researchers compared fragments of mitochondrial DNA — which the magazine noted is inherited from one’s mother — to samples from living relatives of Eddowes and Kosminski and found they matched those of Kosminski’s relative.
The study also includes an analysis of the killer’s appearance which suggests the killer had brown hair and brown eyes. which matches the only reliable witness statement, according to Science.
The study’s findings may not satisfy other Ripper experts who say the shawl may have been contaminated over the years. The shawl was given to Louhelainen by Edwards, a self-proclaimed “armchair detective” and author of "Naming Jack the Ripper," who bought it at an auction in 2007, according to the Guardian.
“I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case,” he told the newspaper in 2014. “I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was.”
Jack The Ripper’s Identity ‘Finally Revealed’ By DNA Evidence
The killer’s identity has remained a mystery in the years since the shocking murders, but now researchers believe they have uncovered new evidence which finally reveals who the Ripper really was.
Researchers conducted genetic tests on DNA found on a blood-covered shawl at one of the murder scenes, which was believed to have belonged to the murderer.
And they think they’ve found a match.
New research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences points towards Aaron Kosminski being the Ripper.
The research states, as per The Sun:
We describe for the first time systematic, molecular level analysis of the only surviving physical evidence linked to the Jack the Ripper murders.
Finding both matching profiles in the same piece of evidence enhances the statistical probability of its overall identification and reinforces the claim that the shawl is authentic.
The shawl is linked to the double murder of victims Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, and is believed to have contained DNA from both Eddowes and the killer.
And now, after genetic testing was carried out on the DNA found on the shawl, researchers believe they have uncovered the identity of the killer.
The new evidence in the Journal of Forensic Sciences reportedly points towards Kosminski, who was 23 years old at the time of the murders.
Kosminski was ‘confirmed’ as the killer after fragments of mitochondrial DNA were taken from the shawl and compared with those taken from Kosminski’s known living descendants.
This isn’t the first time the 23-year-old has been mentioned in the notorious killings he was identified as a prime suspect in 1888, however investigators didn’t have enough evidence against him.
The new DNA testing also supports eyewitness reports that Jack the Ripper – who is believed to have killed five women in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888 – had brown hair and brown eyes.
The researchers say their new study provides ‘the most systematic and most advanced genetic analysis to date regarding the Jack the Ripper murders.’
Whether you believe what the researchers say or not, you’ve got to admit that it’s fascinating to see new scientific advances leading the way in fighting crime.
Hopefully one day in the not-too-distant future, the Ripper’s identity will finally be confirmed by police because of these new methods.
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How one man revealed Jack the Ripper's identity: the full story
One of the more curious effects of the passage of time, I suggest to Bruce Robinson, is its capacity to transform even the most twisted of homicidal maniacs into a kind of pantomime rogue. No serial killer has benefited more dramatically from this process than Jack the Ripper. A murderer and butcher of vulnerable women (and at least one young boy), his name now evokes the kind of playful unease inspired by mention of Bluebeard or Captain Hook. "It's even worse than that," says Robinson, who talks to me in the sitting room of his large 16th century farmhouse in the Welsh borders, an idyllic property he shares with his wife, Sophie.
Across the courtyard is the writing room where, for more than 12 years, he has been researching the most sadistic and prolific murderer known to have evaded British justice in the modern era. "In the popular imagination," says the author of They All Love Jack: Busting The Ripper, "this psychopath has acquired an almost heroic status. But Jack the Ripper was not a hero. He was a disgusting lowlife piece of shit. He was as big a prick as Hitler. I hadn't been researching him long before I started wanting to murder him. I wanted to kill him off forever myself."
In this last aim, metaphorically at least, Robinson could be said to have succeeded. The Whitechapel murderer's cosy immortality has derived, to some degree, from his anonymity. That privilege is now denied him. Into a field of crime study that has been dominated (with the odd exception) by historians of orthodox instinct and limited ability, Robinson has erupted like the Ripper's worst nightmare: a writer of great perception, ferociously articulate on and off the page, well versed in the art of inhabiting dysfunctional characters and - most crucially - a man who, in archives across the world, was prepared to put in the hours. Last time I stayed here, four years ago, he was on page 806 of his manuscript and he swore to me he was already certain he had his man. Back then, in the absence of a name, I was inclined to doubt him. I'm not any more. He has, to use his own phrase, "nailed the f***er".
In Robinson's conversation, the f-word occurs with such frequency that, were you an extra-terrestrial seeking to decode the English language, you might assume it was the verb "to be". Over a cup of tea, the writer, an elegantly preserved 69, embarks on a narrative previously undisclosed to anybody besides his researcher, publisher, immediate family and one or two close confidants, including Johnny Depp. It's a hallucinatory story of such intensity that we're only ten minutes in when I tell Robinson that I know - absurd as this may sound - that I will remember this afternoon forever. "Well," he replies, "it is the tale of tales. For 40-odd years I have earned my living as a writer. I have never come across a story as bizarre as this."
Robinson is best known for three projects: his screenplay for 1984's The Killing Fields (directed by Roland Joffé) and two movies that he wrote and directed: the 1987 comedy *Withnail
& I* - a film occasionally described as a "cult" classic (has an adjective ever been more patronising or redundant?) - and his 2011 collaboration with Depp, The Rum Diary, based on the Hunter S Thompson novel. This last was an ambitious project that, as Robinson candidly puts it, "bombed". His greatest work of prose is the 1998 novella The Peculiar Memories Of Thomas Penman, which draws on his traumatic upbringing in Broadstairs, Kent.
Robinson, once tirelessly sociable at any hour of the night or day, has moderated his consumption of red wine but remains a tremendous host who - unlike most interviewees - actively enjoys having journalists stay the night. A note on the bathroom mirror reads, "Writing is horrible."
Few authors would quibble with that. But They All Love Jack must have presented an altogether different variety of torment. "The idea took me by surprise," he says. "I was in Los Angeles in 1993, pondering the idea of writing a thriller. Iɽ been reading a book called Raymond Chandler Speaking, in which he mentions the Maybrick case."
Florence Maybrick, whose name will recur in this story, was a young American framed for the murder of her husband, who died at his home, Battlecrease House, Aigburth, Liverpool, in 1889. James Maybrick, a wealthy cotton merchant, is believed by some to be Jack the Ripper on the evidence of a document purporting to be his confession - the so-called "Ripper Diary" - unearthed by builders renovating his former home in 1992.
Seeking court transcripts related to the Chandler book, Robinson was advised by police to call Keith Skinner, a leading crime researcher who, by coincidence, had appeared with him in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film Romeo & Juliet, when both were aspiring actors. "Keith," Robinson says, "told me that Jack the Ripper was the one conundrum that nobody would ever solve. I bet him a fiver I could. That was around 2000."
There's an old Chinese proverb, he adds, "which says that when a finger points at the moon the imbecile looks at the finger. I thought Ripperologists had always been looking at the finger. I wanted to look at the moon. How is it that, in 1889, Florence Maybrick is accused of murder and then, in 1992, the man she was supposed to have killed is accused, in this rediscovered document, of being Jack the Ripper? It seemed so strange. And that," he says, "was what started me off."
Robinson's research into the Ripper's atrocities gathered pace once he examined the murder of Catherine Eddowes, the second of two murders (known as the "double event") on the night of 30 September 1888. "He killed and mutilated her, then wrote this message on the wall: 'The Juwes are / The men that / Will not / Be blamed for nothing.' Sir Charles Warren, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is informed of this message by telegraph. He leaps out of bed at 4am and gets into a hansom cab, not in order to preserve the writing on the wall but to wipe it out. And erase it he did, even though fellow officers were urging him to have this evidence photographed. Right there you have the fulcrum on which the so-called mystery of Jack the Ripper lies."
The word "Juwes", Robinson argues, is a reference to Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum, assassins central to Masonic legend. (Their full history and mythical significance is explained at some length in They All Love Jack.) "Once I started researching Commissioner Warren, what emerged was that he was a very senior Freemason. He knew the message about
'Juwes' had to have been written by a Mason. Warren got his stupid arse out of bed that night to fulfil the spirit of the oath sworn by a senior Freemason, ie, 'I will protect any other Mason [from the consequences of their actions], murder and treason not excluded.'"
Robinson re-examined the forensic detail of other known Ripper murders. "Freemasonry has denied any connection with the Ripper for 130 years," he says. "But these women were all murdered according to Masonic ritual. Throats cut across, abdomens ripped open, guts slung over their shoulders, every piece of metal
taken off them and placed nearby. The whole affair is glaringly Masonic. That much I realised within a week."
Of course, the notion that Jack the Ripper was a Freemason is hardly innovative. Dozens of Ripperologists have examined the murders in this context. That said, it's hard to describe the experience of embarking on the unbound manuscript of Robinson's
They All Love Jack after having spent hours, as I had, ploughing through the acres of turgid prose on the subject that clog the vaults of the British Library. It's like being a jaded art teacher at an evening class, accustomed to predictable banality, when in walks Picasso who produces a canvas - in this case a picture of institutionalised Victorian corruption - so hideous it makes "Guernica" look like a Peanuts cartoon. "The majority of the London constabulary," Robinson argues, "were good for nothing but lying. They were a kind of tea-brewing Cosa Nostra, as corrupt as anything in the slums of Naples." One senior detective, he writes, "couldn't look at a bottle of ink without fishing it for lies". This was London in the late 1880s when, as the author puts it, "you could f*** a child for five shillings but you couldn't read Zola".
Robinson meticulously establishes the Masonic ties that linked the Victorian hierarchy: judges, cabinet ministers, barristers, senior police officers and royalty. He minutely examines the history of Charles Warren who, as a young man, had led a calamitous Masonic expedition to the Holy Land. Robinson presents a scenario of endemic hypocrisy, under which protection of fellow Masons, rather than the defence of the innocent under the law, was the establishment's guiding priority. "A journalist at the New York Times," he says, "writing of one victim - Mary Jane Kelly - observed in 1888, 'This [crime scene] is like the strictures of Ezekiel.' Who is the boss man in Freemasonry? Ezekiel. Examine what Ezekiel's instructions are concerning what you do to whores. Every abomination inflicted on Kelly was like an illustration from that book, including taking her guts out and burning them. This f***er Ezekiel," he adds, "would have been sectioned today. Every case I looked at replicated Masonic practice. It would take 12 years of my life to prove why."
Rage dominates the book: rage at the Ripper and at the indifference of the authorities
One of the great differences between They All Love Jack and most existing Ripper studies - and there are many - is that the dozens of taunting letters sent to "Bro[ther] Warren" by an individual claiming to be the perpetrator are conventionally disregarded as forgeries. Robinson scrutinises the handwriting, which, although frequently -disguised, has many similarities, such as using an "f" for an "s" (anachronistic by the late 19th century). Compiling the letters' Masonic references, uncanny knowledge of unreleased detail of crime scenes, their taunting of the police (Warren, mocked for his botched trip to Palestine, is usually addressed by the Americanism "Dear Boss") and trademark flourishes, such as the word "Ha!" scrawled on the envelopes, he constructs a powerful case for these letters having come from the same person and for that individual being the murderer.
The letters, some signed "JTR", others with different coded aliases, "were coming from all over England. From Huddersfield, Leeds and Penzance. Imagine this happening today. What métier could the writer have?"
Truck driver? "Perhaps. Or airline pilot. Or how about. " Robinson pauses, "rock star?"
For a moment I assume that he's joking. He isn't. "My candidate was an extremely famous singer, frequently on tour. I started looking at the Ripper letters and comparing them with his concert dates. And bingo. They match up."
And his name? "His name was Michael Maybrick. He was from Liverpool, brother of James Maybrick, whose murder Raymond Chandler wrote about.
Michael was a huge star, as a singer and composer, also working under the name of Stephen Adams."
To the less charitably minded of my fellow Mancunians it will come as little surprise to learn that Jack the Ripper was a Scouser. But an eminent musician? I, for one, had never heard of him.
"Hardly anybody has. Even though Michael Maybrick wrote the most successful single popular song of the 19th century: 'The Holy City'. It sold a million copies in sheet music. At that time he was outselling his friend [Bro] Arthur Sullivan."
Maybrick, Robinson tells me, was a prodigy who studied at Leipzig and Milan. "He was a wizard on the organ, so you can almost imagine him as an ogre at the keyboard, but I've tried to avoid all of that clichéd Gothic bullshit."
Maybrick was appointed grand organist at the Freemasons' Grand Lodge. "He appears on the same Masonic lists as the Prince of Wales and king-to-be Edward VII," says Robinson. "He was at the epicentre of the establishment. Sharing drinks with Oscar Wilde. "
Who was also a Mason. "Who was also a Mason. Sharing cocktails with Wilde at the Café
Royal, below which was a lodge to which both men belonged. And then," he adds, "at the apogee of his fame, Michael Maybrick vanished. It was almost as if Paul McCartney disappeared after releasing 'Hey Jude'."
It's Robinson's contention that Michael Maybrick, who is known to have loathed Florence, his American sister-in-law (she publicly referred to him as "brute"), was engaged in a vindictive campaign to frame his brother James for the murders. "There's one letter to the police saying, 'Tomorrow is my birthday and I am off to Bromley.' This was written on 23 October 1888. The next day was James Maybrick's birthday. Who could he possibly be seeking to implicate? Then there are the Americanisms, like "Dear Boss", in the letters. James had many contacts, besides his wife, in the United States, where he spent a lot of time. And where was Michael Maybrick on 24 October? He was in Bromley.
Gradually, says Robinson, "I snapped into his mind-set. Jack the Ripper writes a letter from Manchester, announcing who he is going to kill next. Where was my candidate on that date? Manchester Free Trade Hall. I built up a picture of this f***ing insane psychopath with a sort of homicidal wit. The letters frequently refer to the Isle of Wight, where Michael Maybrick had a house."
How is it that so few people have identified him as the Ripper? "I don't want to sound facetious, but you might equally ask why nobody had previously invented the light bulb or discovered penicillin."
The book demonstrates a pattern in the London Ripper inquests that is shockingly predictable: vital evidence withheld or destroyed, police lying under oath, crucial eyewitnesses identified but never summoned.
Matthew Packer, a greengrocer, sold grapes to the Ripper and his victim Elizabeth Stride just before she was killed near London's Commercial Road. She was the first victim of the "double event" only an hour or so later the Ripper killed and eviscerated Catherine Eddowes. The Daily Telegraph interviewed Packer and published a drawing based on his description of the tall, well-spoken man in a black felt hat. The portrait bears little resemblance to the skulking Poles and hook-nosed Semites the authorities were touting as candidates, but its features are not dissimilar to those of Michael Maybrick. Why was Packer not summoned to the inquest?
"Because the judges, detectives and barristers were Masons and they knew the killer was a Mason," Robinson says. But not which Mason? "Doesn't matter. They were protecting their own."
There's a point in They All Love Jack where Robinson writes, "I don't care what fancy-dress oath you swore, Warren.
You belong with your monster in hell."
If there is one emotion that dominates the book it is rage: rage at the obscenities perpetrated by the Ripper rage at the indifference of the authorities rage at the system that enabled the killings.
Earlier, when Robinson remarked that he wanted to kill the Ripper, I suspect he may have been thinking of one homicide in particular: that of a victim hitherto unconnected with the Whitechapel murderer, Johnnie Gill, a seven-year-old butchered in Bradford, in December 1888. Three weeks earlier the Ripper had boasted in a letter that he would kill an infant. Robinson's research into Maybrick's movements places him in Bradford, sheltered by senior Masons, no later than Boxing Day 1888.
'I don't care what oath Charles Warren swore. He belongs with the monster in hell'
Gill was murdered on 27 December - St John the Evangelist's Day, the most important date in the Masonic calendar.
An innocent milkman called William Barrett, who had befriended the boy, was almost hanged on the sole evidence that his wife had recently bought a new knife. "This kid," Robinson tells me, "was killed according to a Masonic ritual called the fifth libation. Every aspect of the killing is symbolic. He cut his legs off and put them on the torso to replicate the Knights Templar skull and crossbones. The Bradford police, who would have recognised this symbolism immediately, did everything to conceal what had happened, then tried to hang this milkman who used to let this poor boy ride with him on his round."
Why would Maybrick - a Mason - bother with such ritual? "Because he knew that if the police saw signs of Freemasonry at the scene he was immune. He scattered Masonic symbolism around his victims like confetti. He held Freemasons in contempt, though he was one."
Throughout his epic work, Robinson abandons the tone of emotional detachment traditional in analysis of such historic crimes. Take this paragraph on the killing of Gill. "F*** justice, f*** the law, f*** Johnnie Gill's devastated family, f*** his mother who took flowers to her child's grave every Sunday for the next 37 years, f*** the milkman, his wife and their baby we're talking about a threat to the entire establishment here."
There's a lot of anger, I say, in this book. "If there was one thing that kept me going as I immersed myself in the filthy f***ing miasma that was British politics in the Victorian era, it was rage. I was inflamed by what they did with that little boy."
Some authors are drawn to sexual crime out of a kind of voyeuristic fascination. Robinson is not among them. The dominant themes in his work, from The Killing Fields onwards, have been fury at injustice and a passionate empathy with the underdog. When conversation turns to his own childhood, it's not hard to understand why.
His stepfather, Rob Robinson, was a newspaper seller who owned riding crops but no horse. Robinson once told me that he was beaten by his stepfather on a regular basis. Was "beaten" another word for slapped? "No. It was another word for punched in the face."
Rob Robinson was an RAF navigator "when my mother was in the land army. He f***s off to bomb Tripoli. This US serviceman meets my mother. When my stepfather returns she has to tell him, 'Here's the baby.' As it says in Thomas Penman, I was a 'walking affirmation of my mother's guilt'. The stepfather was in a state of permanent fury. I used to lie awake at night, fantasising about having a rifle, I think because I was genuinely terrified that he would kill me."
Last time I stayed with Robinson he had no idea of the identity of his birth father. Now he has a photograph of the American and says he's just discovered two half-sisters living in the US.
Didn't you once tell me Hemingway said the only thing a writer needs is an unhappy childhood? "My early life gave me a great deal to draw on. But would I have swapped a happy childhood for the writing? Yes."
Robinson's stepfather, educated at Rugby, "was constantly telling me I was stupid. I thought it was normal to hear my mother scream 'Stop it, you'll kill him' while I was being bashed. I was sent to the worst secondary modern available. I had chronic asthma.
I was a really f***ed up kid."
His older sister, Elly, went to grammar school Bruce was "so jealous because she did French. I was desperate to learn French. I used to make her teach me what she was learning. That way, I managed to learn it myself."
Robinson's facility with words was a quality no system could extinguish. He speaks pretty good French now. One thing his new book demonstrates is that he is not the average autodidact. So many of the self-taught grab at any theory with the undiscriminating haste of a starving man looting a supermarket, but Robinson is rigorous, methodical, endlessly questioning.
In They All Love Jack (the title is borrowed from one of Michael Maybrick's compositions, written before the murders) the proposition that he was killing prostitutes out of displaced rage against Florence, which admittedly sounds fanciful when Robinson first mentions it, becomes more plausible with every page. "I said to Keith Skinner," Robinson tells me, "the day I find this theory doesn't work is the day I junk it. I will not bend so much as a comma. But once I was on to him, everything supported the proposition. I was looking at stuff aghast."
The most flagrant example of the spiteful criminality of Michael Maybrick, and the connivance of the state, relates to the death of his brother James, poisoned in May 1889. James, as revealed by documents Skinner unearthed in Liverpool was, like Michael, a master Mason, even though, Robinson tells me, "as far as the records at Freemasons' Hall [central London] are concerned, James wasn't even a Freemason. To prove that he was took six months' f***ing work."
James was a hypochondriac whose drug of choice was arsenic, although he also took strychnine. He was 41 when he met Florence Chandler, an 18 year old from Mobile, Alabama, on an Atlantic crossing. They married in 1881. James had five children with one -mistress. In her own battle to maintain monogamy, Florence suffered multiple reverses. One of several affairs that became public was with Edwin, James and Michael's brother. It seems probable that Michael, though homosexual, had been rejected as a lover by Florence. "Michael hated her arse from day one," says Robinson. "She married James. She slighted him. She called him a brute. The worst thing you can do to a psychopath is to slight them. He sees her as a slut you could f*** for fourpence in the East End. He starts murdering these women as surrogates for her. When it comes to killing her, the state offers to perform his murder for him."
If the above statement involves a degree of informed supposition, Robinson leaves no room for doubt in demonstrating Michael Maybrick's orchestration of the murder of his brother.
In what is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt trials ever held in England or anywhere else, Florence was sentenced to death following an original charge of killing her husband with arsenic obtained by soaking fly-papers in water. The quantity of poison in such papers, then commonly used by women for cosmetic purposes, was minimal and near-impossible to extract.
Tests on the body for arsenic, both before and after exhumation, were either negative or insignificant.
The judicial malpractice Robinson reveals is staggering even by the standards of the Ripper trials that preceded it.
Both the judge, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, and chief counsel for the crown, John Addison, were Masons. Sir Charles Russell QC, another bro, who was theoretically defending Florence, was an intimate associate of Michael Maybrick's. A week before his death, James Maybrick had been in London, consulting Dr Fuller, Michael's doctor, who wrote out an anodyne prescription. James subsequently took delivery of a package known as the "London medicine", which appears to have been despatched not by Fuller but by another, more musical, visitor to the post office. Once James tasted it, he fell violently ill. Florence, observing the effects of this pick-me-up, threw away the bottle.
At one point the court in Liverpool was cleared, leaving only the judge, barristers and, astoundingly, Michael Maybrick. It was decided not to admit the evidence of a letter which James had ostensibly written to Michael, addressed by his nickname of "Blucher".
In it, James states his belief that it was "Dr Fuller's medicine" that was killing him. Robinson offers conclusive evidence to demonstrate that James was killed by laudanum administered by Edwin Maybrick (now jilted by Florence) assisted by at least one of the female servants in the house, the entire scenario at Battlecrease House being orchestrated by Michael. "I believe the Blucher letter was forged by Michael Maybrick as insurance, should suspicion ever fall on him," Robinson says. "Had Bro Russell waved that paper in the face of the jury, Florence would have walked in five minutes."
In They All Love Jack, the conspiracy to silence Florence is proved long before we hear from Robert Reeves, who gave a statement to police saying that, while on the run as a deserter, he had overheard Michael and his brother Edwin plotting to murder James with the help of a "servant girl" and to blame it on his wife. Reeves' statement would remain classified in Home Office files for the next 100 years. "They would have hanged Florence," says Robinson, "though all they wanted to do was shut her up."
For what reason? "I believe Michael had dropped the word on James to the Freemasons' hierarchy: 'I hate to tell you this, but I think my brother is the Ripper. And his wife knows.' At which point they shat themselves."
Florence, once it was accepted that arsenic had not killed her husband, had her death sentence commuted, but remained imprisoned for 14 years. She died in a shack in Connecticut in 1941 aged 79.
One extraordinary section of Robinson's book examines a letter received by the journalist WT Stead. It was posted from Krugersdorp near Johannesburg in July 1892 by a Dutchman who signed himself Moreau Masina Berthrad Neuberg. Mr Neuberg claimed that he had just buried a friend, Mr Wilson, near the Limpopo, and that Wilson had confessed that he, in conspiracy with a woman servant, poisoned James Maybrick. Wilson, Neuberg said, had instructed him to send the document "to Sir Charles Russell, barrister-at-law".
The letter bears many of the hallmarks of the Ripper's previous communications.
Robinson spent "more time than I care to remember" searching South African records for the Dutchman. "Then I asked myself, why would someone with a name that long sign it in full in a letter? It looked like an anagram. I started moving Scrabble tiles around, and a phrase emerged. I gave the letters to my late mother, a crossword enthusiast. She produced the same single phrase: 'I began a brute Mason murderer. Ha.' Maybrick, as you know, used to write 'Ha!' on his envelopes."
How about the "Ripper diary" found at James' house by the workmen? "Ask Scotland Yard about the provenance of this document," he says, "and they will release no information. It's protected under the Official Secrets Act. I know exactly what the provenance is. I would be in breach of the law if I told you. What I can say is that the ɽiary of Jack the Ripper' is not a diary at all. It's a document scrawled by this same psychopath implicating his brother.
Has Jack the Ripper's identity really been revealed using DNA evidence?
An amateur sleuth with a book to sell and a scientist working in his spare time claimed to have solved one of the biggest murder mysteries in history by naming Jack the Ripper as a Polish immigrant in the 19th Century after discovering what they said was conclusive DNA evidence.
A aron Kosminski, a Polish Jew whose family had emigrated to London to escape pogroms, is “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the man behind the grisly series of murders in 1888 that left at least five women dead and mutilated in the streets of London’s East End, said Russell Edwards, the author of the latest in a long-line of speculative books on the affair.
“I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case. I’ve spent 14 years working, and we have definitely solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now – we have unmasked him,” Mr Edwards said.
Leaving aside for a moment that Kosminski, who was 23 when the murders took place and died in a lunatic asylum at the age of 53, was already a leading candidate for the murders, what exactly is this new evidence that so definitely nails him as the culprit?
It turns out to hinge on an old shawl that Mr Edwards bought in 2007 at an auction in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He claims this large piece of cloth was found at the scene of the murder of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, and has a letter to “prove” it from a descendent of Sergeant Amos Simpson, the policeman on duty the night Eddowes was killed who had claimed the abandoned shawl for his wife.
Horrified by the blood-soaked wrap, Mrs Simpson never wore or even washed it, but stored it away where it became a family heirloom to be passed down the generations until it was sold to Mr Edwards.
The Identity of Jack the Ripper Has Been Revealed
The identity of the legendary mysterious killer of the 19th century, Jack the Ripper, has now been revealed. The man who committed a series of horrendous crimes in the United Kingdom is the Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski, claims Russell Edwards, who has been investigating the case for quite a long time.
After 120 years, the mystery has finally been solved thanks to DNA testing of a scarf, worn by one of the victims of Jack the Ripper. There are traces of blood and the killer's semen on the item. Russell Edwards, amateur detective, acquired the scarf 7 years ago at an auction.
During his investigation, he worked with an expert in molecular biology and innovative equipment for DNA testing. That is how the detective found that the perpetrator of the terrifying crimes was one of the 6 suspects - Aaron Kosminski.
Kosminski arrived in England in 1881, when he was 23 years old. He started work as a barber. The murderer's 2 brothers and sister also lived in England. They lived near the home of 3rd found victim, Elizabeth Stride, who was killed on the same night that Catherine Eddowes was mutilated.
The young man was suspected by police back in 1888, but they were unable to find proof to hold against him. He died in 1919, after being put in an insane asylum, where he got gangrene on his leg.
"Jack the Ripper" was the nickname given to the serial killer with a mysterious identity. He attacked his victims in the slums of England. There are more than 100 different theories about the identity of the merciless criminal. He killed middle-aged prostitutes, cutting their throats and removing their insides.
The number of ladies who fell by his hand has not been fully determined but the names of 5 slaughtered women remain in history. These are Maria Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. The scarf that Russell Edwards examined belonged to Catherine Eddowes.
Detective Russell Edwards is categorical that he has finally solved the mystery. He even intends to come out with a book describing his 14 years of investigation.
Has the true identity of Jack the Ripper been revealed? Victorian diary proven genuine contains huge clue
But the true identity of Jack the Ripper may have finally been confirmed, after researchers said they had proven the authenticity of a much disputed Victorian diary.
Twenty five years ago 'Ripperologists' around the world were stunned by the discovery of a previously unknown memoir, claiming to have been written by Liverpool cotton merchant, James Maybrick.
In the 9,000 word volume, Maybrick confessed to the brutal murders of five women in the East End of London, as well as one prostitute in Manchester.
He signed off the diary: "I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper."
But within months of the book hitting the shelves, Ripper experts, who subjected it to careful analysis, began to question its authenticity.
The diary had first come to public attention via a former Liverpool scrap metal dealer named Mike Barrett, who claimed he had obtained it through a family friend, Tony Devereux.
Unfortunately Mr Devereux died shortly afterwards, and so the diary's true provenance was never fully explained, cementing the view among many that it was simply a sophisticated forgery.
According to a new book on the saga, the contentious memoir was actually discovered in Maybrick's former Liverpool home - putting him firmly back in the frame as history's most notorious serial killer.
Robert Smith, who published the original diary in 1993, and has written the new book, believes Mr Barrett and those who supplied him with the document, kept this crucial fact secret because they were frightened of being prosecuted.
Mr Smith said: "When the diary first emerged, Mike Barrett refused to give any satisfactory explanation for where it had come from, but after painstaking research, chiefly by Bruce Robinson, we can now show a trail that leads us directly to Maybrick's home."
The wealthy merchant, who died in 1889, a year after the Whitechapel murders, lived in a grand property, known as Battlecrease House, in the Merseyside suburb of Aigburth.
In 1992 a local firm of electrical contractors, Portus & Rhodes Ltd, were working at the property carrying out various renovations.
Among the workers were three local men, Arthur Rigby, James Coufopoulos and Eddie Lyons.
Mr Lyons was a regular in The Saddle Inn public house in Anfield, where Mr Barrett was also well known character.
According to timesheets obtained from Portus & Rhodes Ltd, Mr Rigby and Mr Coufopoulos were both at work on the morning of March 9 1992, the very day that Mr Barrett contacted London literary agent Doreen Montgomery with the immortal words, "I've got Jack the Ripper's diary, would you be interested in seeing it?"
Mr Smith said: "Barrett was a colourful local character who was always boasting about being an author, so when the electricians at the house found this book, they believed he was the man who would be able to help them sell it to a publisher.
"The truth was that Barrett's only significant literary achievement was to write occasional puzzles for the weekly TV children's magazine, Look-In.
"Barrett had a highly impetuous nature. Just seeing or being told about the signature at the end of the diary would have been enough for him to reach for the phone.
"He was not very literate and the idea that he would have been capable of producing such a sophisticated and credible forgery is not remotely plausible."
When the diary was published, opinion was divided about its authenticity.
Some said many of the details could only have been known by the killer himself, while others suggested it was simply a sophisticated forgery that had been cleverly pieced together using press reports from the time.
Things were further complicated in 1995 when Mr Barrett signed a sworn affidavit claiming he had made the whole thing up. He later retracted the confession.
His alleged associates, Mr Rigby, Mr Coufopoulos and Mr Lyons have all since denied being involved in the discovery of the book, although their versions of events were all slightly different.
Throughout all this, Mr Smith has never wavered from his belief that the document is genuine.
He explained: "I have never been in any doubt that the diary is a genuine document written in 1888 and 1889.
"The new and indisputable evidence, that on 9th March 1992, the diary was removed from under the floorboards of the room that had been James Maybrick&rsquos bedroom in 1889, and offered later on the very same day to a London literary agent, overrides any other considerations regarding its authenticity.
"It follows that James Maybrick is its most likely author. Was he Jack the Ripper? He now has to be a prime suspect, but the disputes over the Ripper&rsquos identity may well rage for another century at least.&rdquo