Report: How the scientist who ‘unmasked’ Jack the Ripper made a ‘serious’ error

The debunking was largely the work of Britain’s Independent, an upscale, respectable rival to the sensationalist Daily Mail. It turned out the DNA evidence wasn’t nearly as iron-clad as the Mail made it out to be. The Mail claimed a shawl discovered at the murder scene of Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes contained her blood and the killer’s. The DNA from the shawl, the author said, was then linked to Eddowes through a living descendant named Karen Miller.

But closer scrutiny of the work has cast suspicion on it, according to the Independent. Researchers including Alec Jeffreys, who developed DNA profiling, say the original research made an “error in nomenclature.” And that error meant the DNA testing yielded traits extant in 99 percent of Europe’s population — rather than one specific person, the Independent said.

“They say the error means no DNA connection can be made between Kosminski and Eddowes,” the Independent reported, saying the error had been “serious.” “Any suggestion therefore that the Ripper and Kosminski are the same person appears to be based on conjecture and supposition — as it has been ever since the police first identified Kosminski as a possible suspect more than a century ago.”