JACK THE RIPPER DIED TODAY … 96 YEARS AGO …

  Today – March 24 – 96 years ago Jack the Ripper died. Or rather a Polish-born Jew named Aaron Kosminski died.   He died in the Leavesden Asylum for Adult Imbeciles which was established in 1870.  Today, with our political correctness, no one would dare identify any place as ‘an asylum for adult imbeciles’, […]

A head-yoke of cattle hanging over a threshold for protection against evil (copyright Marilyn Z.Tomlins)

A head-yoke of cattle hanging over a threshold for protection against evil (copyright Marilyn Z.Tomlins)

 

Today – March 24 – 96 years ago Jack the Ripper died.

Or rather a Polish-born Jew named Aaron Kosminski died.   He died in the Leavesden Asylum for Adult Imbeciles which was established in 1870.  Today, with our political correctness, no one would dare identify any place as ‘an asylum for adult imbeciles’, but those days there were no such scruples. The asylum was in Watford, Hertfordshire: it closed in 1997.

Kosminski had been a patient at Leavesden for the previous 25 years of his life.

Why?

The admission documents described him as a ‘chronic harmless lunatic, idiot or imbecile’.

Poor Aaron Kosminski, and me having said that, you will gather that I do not believe that he was Jack the Ripper.

Questioned in a routine house-by-house investigation by the Metropolitan Police at the home of one of his sisters where he was staying in August and September 1888 when Jack the Ripper was ripping open prostitutes in London’s Whitechapel, he had become a suspect. Or rather a Kosminski had become a suspect: no first name was given.

Although Aaron Kosminski was never taken in for interrogation and neither was any member of his family (his widowed mother, two brothers, two sisters and two brothers-in-law) to be questioned about him or about his whereabouts on the nights of the murders, his name had continued to pop up in the myriad of books about Jack the Ripper.

In October last year (2014) he, as Aaron Kosminski, was though for the first time firmly ‘identified’ as Jack the Ripper in the book ‘Naming Jack the Ripper’ by Russell Edwards.

Mr Edwards gave as proof that the DNA profiles from dark stains, probably blood, on a  shawl which a policeman had taken from the murder scene of Catherine Eddowes, accepted as the penultimate victim of Jack the Ripper’s five victims, had matched the DNA profile of one of Eddowes’ female descendants. Also,that the DNA profiles of lighter stains, probably semen, on the shawl had matched the DNA of a female descendant of Aaron Kosminski.  Because of the shawl’s age, the DNA drawn from the shawl was not the genomic DNA used today in criminal investigation, but a mitochondrial DNA – mtDNA – which could only be matched with the DNA of a female descendant because mtDNA is inherited only from the mother. Eddowes’ descendant was identified as Karen Miller and living in the United Kingdom, but Aaron Kosminski’s descendant, who apparently lives in Australia, did not wish to be identified.   (Jack the Ripper’s other victims were Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly: they are known as the Canonical Five.)

I wrote about Mr Edwards’s identification of Jack the Ripper as Aaron Kosminski and that I do not believe that the latter was Jack the Ripper  here  so do read it as I will not be repeating what I had written there.

The conclusion I had reached was not based on scientific knowledge, but it was because I believed (and still do) that Aaron Kosminski was a harmless simpleton and Jack the Ripper had to have all his wits to have planned the murders, to have carried them out and then to have escaped without detection, and once back home to have successfully hidden from his family what he had just done.

Indeed, I am not the only one who doubted Mr Edwards’s firm believe that Aaron Kosminski was Jack the Ripper, because so had scientists: they pointed out that Dr Louhelainen, the molecular biologist from Liverpool’s John Moores University, who had carried out the DNA profiling, had made an error with his analyses.  I write about it in detail in the article I mention in the previous paragraph.

But there are no doubt very many who will still believe that due to Mr Edwards and Dr Louhelainen we finally know who Jack the Ripper was. That he was Aaron Mordke Kosminski who was born in Klodowa in what was then Russian administered Poland on September 11, 1865.

Aaron Kosminski was 54 when he died on March 24, 1919.  He was bone thin and  very weak and therefore bedridden, and he had a oozing sore on his left hip and another on his left leg.  The cause of his death was recorded on his death certificate as ‘gangrene of the left leg’.

Anti-Semitism was rife in London at the time Jack the Ripper was murdering in Whitechapel with all sorts of vices and practices attributed to Jews. One belief was that they drank the blood of children during cleansing rituals. It was therefore believed that only a Jew could have been capable of doing to women what Jack the Ripper had done to them. Or, if not a Jew, then it must have been a foreigner because an Englishman could never ever have committed such an atrocity.

So there you are. Dead 96 years, Aaron Kosminski is as much now as before to many Jack the Ripper.

I repeat that I believe that he was not.

The inscription on his gravestone in East Ham Cemetery is: ‘Aaron Kosminksi who died the 24th of March 1919. Deeply missed by his brother, sisters, relatives and friends. May his dear soul rest in peace’.

The mention of only one brother can be explained in that his brother Isaac who had very much been his guardian had died a year after him and Jewish burial custom demands that the consecration (unveiling) of a tombstone should take place after the Kaddish period of mourning which must not be later than one year after the death has passed. (In Israel today the stone is consecrated some times soon after the sheloshim (first 30 days of mourning) is over.

I do not live in London, but if I did I would have gone to Aaron Kosminski’s grave today. Will do so on my next visit to London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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