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DNA May Reveal Identity of Jack the Ripper

DNA May Reveal Identity of Jack the RipperONE of the greatest murder mysteries of all time – the identity of Jack the Ripper – may soon be revealed by DNA technology developed in Australia.

Scientist Ian Findlay was to use the new test on saliva the notorious serial killer could have left behind if he licked the stamps on the envelopes of letters he sent to London police.

Prof Findlay's method, called Cell Track-ID, is able to extract and compile a DNA fingerprint from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old.

Hair believed to be from Catherine Eddowes – one of at least five prostitutes Jack the Ripper was known to have butchered in London's East End during his reign of terror in 1888 – will also be tested.

Prof Findlay, based at Queensland's Griffith University, said if DNA was found intact on the stamps, it could be compared to DNA from the descendants of suspects.

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"There were 600 letters sent to police claiming 'I am Jack the Ripper' and while most of these are hoaxes, some are thought to be genuine," Prof Findlay said.

"But one of the letters was sent with a piece of kidney taken from one of his victims in a box and another with an earlobe – this information was never released by the police at the time.

"It's more likely these letters are from Jack the Ripper.

"There were about 10 main suspects, from royalty to doctors and painters."

Prof Findlay said a private collector in the United Kingdom was sending a braid of hair, believed to belong to Ms Eddowes, the Ripper's third victim, to determine whether it was genuine.

He said he expected the samples, including letters from the UK's national archives, to arrive in Australia within weeks.

Results could be produced within a week of testing.

"We try not to think who or what before we do what we do in the forensic lab – we will let the results speak for themselves," Prof Findlay said.

Although he was not the world's first serial killer, Jack the Ripper has unrivalled infamy in the annals of murder, with his unknown identity the subject of countless books and movies.

His notoriety spawned from the gruesome nature of his murders, which included throat cutting, abdominal mutilation and the removal of organs including the uterus, kidney and heart, much of it performed with what was believed at the time to be surgical skill.

Meanwhile, Prof Findlay said his powerful DNA technology was also being used to crack several unsolved criminal cases in Australia.

He said Cell Track became ready for use last month as a result of his team working to improve DNA techniques since 1994.

Story source news.com.au.

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