In Patricia Cornwell’s “Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper — Case Closed,” she accuses impressionist painter Walter Richard Sicker of creatively killing five Whitechapel women and sending taunting dispatches to Scotland Yard. In the book, she claims to have found DNA on a letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper with a 99% probability correlation with DNA found on letters known to have been written by the famous artist.
Never mind the heavily trafficked and contaminated “Jack the Ripper” letter had already been known to be a hoax–in fact all of the hundreds of sickly mocking letters are probably hoaxes. Even the infamous “From Hell” letter containing a slice of kidney claiming “I ate the other half” was likely the macabre product of a medical student’s unique sense of humor. (An odd but not totally uncommon practice of the time.) Two local women were also arrested for writing hoax letters.
In any event, it turns out Sicker was relaxing and painting in France during the murders, and what with there being no Channel Tunnel at the time, if he is the murderer, he had one heck of an inconvenient and undocumented commute.
In this new book, writer Russell Edwards accuses Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant barber who has historically been considered to be the prime suspect, of being the infamous murderer. Edwards believes he has the shawl of one of the victims that is rumored to have come from the murder scene of Catherine Eddowes. He claims that DNA from Eddowes’ blood and Kosminski’s semen are both on the shawl.
That’s pretty good evidence, even by Florida jury standards.
But I want to see the bench notes before making my own judgment. The methods used in collecting the ancient samples are very unique and have not yet been subject to the scrutiny of peer review.
Mr. Kosminksi had a reputation for “self abuse,” so if it is their shared DNA on the shawl I could offer an alternative theory for how it got there–but that would require me to get pretty graphic and I think we’ve delved sufficiently into the darkness already.