Intl. Notebook Sep 7 2014
A RIP IN TIME
History’s most storied serial killer finally identified.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has published a story in which it claims infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA testing. The analysis was performed on a shawl found by police on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the Ripper’s canonical victims, killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride in what is termed by Ripper scholars as “The Double Event.” The shawl had recently been bought at auction by an amateur sleuth and passed on to genetic experts, who took samples from the fabric and found matches to the DNA of descendants of Eddowes, and to the descendants of Aaron Kosminski, an original Ripper suspect who had been questioned and surveilled by police back in 1888.

The Mail has said the new evidence “puts to end the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity,” but we imagine independent corroboration will probably have to follow before that’s true. Kosminski was of Polish descent and had emigrated from the Russian Empire to London. Police reports from the time of the murder describe him as a serial masturbator, and indeed the Kosminski DNA sample from the shawl is thought to be semen, meaning that in the few minutes after the killing he both mutilated the corpse and ejaculated over it. Presumably more details will emerge in the coming days, but the announcement of Kosminski as the killer, if true, has to rank as one of crime history’s most significant, and may bring to a close one of its most baffling murder cases.

Update: That didn't take long. Various scientists and DNA experts say the genetic analysis done on the shawl was botched due to error of nomenclature. Instead of an extremely rare genetic match, DNA extracted from Eddowes' shawl actually matches that of most people of European descent. So forget everything we wrote above.

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The Naked City Sep 30 2009
FROM HELL
Jack the Ripper’s double dip and letter from the inferno.


One hundred twenty-one years ago today, residents of London began to understand that a serial killer was stalking the dark streets of Whitechapel and London. Jack the Ripper had killed before—he had murdered Mary Ann Nichols in late August, and Annie Chapman the second week of September. But when two more women died in the same night Londoners flew into a panic. A malevolent entity had beset their city and suddenly it was clear his thirst would not easily be slaked. The two murders were called “The Double Event.” While some historians feel they were unconnected, Ripper orthodoxy holds that the second murder occurred because the first was unconsummated. Which is to say, the Ripper was robbed of a chance to inflict his signature mutilation on the first victim because he was interrupted by a passerby, so he immediately went out and found a second victim to kill in the intricate method his compulsion demanded.
 

The first victim, Elizabeth Stride, was found at 1:00 a.m. in Dutfield’s Yard, in Whitechapel. The yard was a gated area ringed by several businesses and a few residences. Imagine a small parking lot. The gates were kept closed at night, but not locked. This made it easy for residents to access the yard, and for policemen on their nightly beats to inspect it, but it was also unlit. A Pall Mall Gazette article from 1890 described the site: “When you push open the gate it is as dark as Erebus; when the gate is pushed back there is an effectual screen from any prying passer by.” When Stride’s body was discovered blood was still flowing from her slashed throat. She had been slain minutes—or seconds—earlier, and the man who had stumbled over her body later told police that, though he could see nothing because the yard was pitch black, he believed the killer was still there.

Less than an hour later Jack the Ripper found the privacy he sought—and another victim. Catherine Eddowes had spent the night of September 29 in the drunk tank at Bishopgate police station. The cops let her go just about the time Elizabeth Stride was being murdered not far away in Whitechapel. At 1:35 a.m. Eddowes was seen by three witnesses having a conversation with an unidentified male. Her body was found at 1:45, so police of the time and historians of today agree she was talking with the Ripper. In those ten minutes he walked with Eddowes to secluded Mitre Square, just inside the London city limits, then killed her, mutilated her, and removed her kidney. The kidney—or part of it—resurfaced along with a letter addressed to George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The letter bore a header “From Hell,” and the text boasted of how nice the missing piece of kidney tasted fried. The letter was signed: “Catch me when you can.” But neither Lusk nor anyone else managed it. And the killings continued.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 25
1939—Batman Debuts
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
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