It is one of the world’s greatest murder mysteries which has baffled investigators for more than a century.
But now an author and self confessed “armchair detective” claims to have solved perhaps the most notorious whodunit ever, and discovered who Jack the Ripper was.
Russell Edwards claims Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish immigrant who ended up dying in an asylum, was “definitely, categorically and absolutely” the man behind the grisly killing spree in 1888 in London’s East End.
Mr Edwards said a blood-stained shawl he bought in 2007 after an auction in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, held vital DNA evidence which led him to the killer.
He said: “I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case. I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively 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.”
Jack the Ripper murdered at least five women, slashing their throats, removing some of their internal organs and leaving their mutilated bodied in Whitechapel’s darkened alleyways.
Mr Edwards, 48, from Barnet, north London, was “captivated” by the murder mystery and had been investigating it in his spare time, and in 2007 he snapped up a shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes.
He then enlisted the help of Jari Louhelainen, an expert in molecular biology, who used pioneering techniques to find DNA from her blood and that of the killer.
He said: “I enlisted the help of Jari and we embarked on a three-and-a-half year journey.
“When we discovered the truth it was the most amazing feeling of my entire life.”
Mr Edwards said the discovery proves beyond doubt that Kosminski - one of the six key suspects commonly cited as the Ripper - was the actual killer.
He said the shawl had been taken by acting Sergeant Amos Simpson, who was on duty the night of Eddowes’s death and wanted it for his wife.
But horrified at the blood-soaked wrap, she never wore it, and it was stored away and passed down through the generations until it came to auction seven years ago.
Mr Edwards said: “Thank God the shawl has never been washed, as it held the vital evidence.”
The author, who said he was part-inspired to take up the search for the killer after watching the Johnny Depp film ‘From Hell’ about the Ripper murders, said police had identified Kosminski as a suspect, but never gathered enough evidence to bring him to trial.
Kosminski was a Polish Jewish immigrant who, fleeing persecution in his Russia-controlled homeland, travelled with his family to England in 1881 and lived in Mile End Old Town.
He was later admitted to a string of lunatic asylums, where he died in 1899 of gangrene in the leg.