All us "Ripperologists" are ready to pull our hair out (The ones who HAVE hair, anyway. I am not one of them.) over the "blockbuster" news report stating that jack the Ripper has been positively identified through DNA evidence after 125+ years as Aaron Kosminski. The fact that this is being reported--and accepted--as legitimate is downright disturbing to me. Will people nowadays accept ANYthing without any sort of verification? Will the media report ANYthing as true? Isn't it the responsibility of journalists to check their facts before they run with a sensational story? If they'll be so sloppy and careless with an admittedly innocuous story like this one, aren't they doing the same thing with the reports that actually matter? It worries me. It should worry you.
Since they won't do it, I will. Fact check time, friends.
This "evidence" has been seen and evaluated by NO ONE not involved in the production of this new book, which conveniently goes on sale this coming Tuesday. The fact that they are revealing the "evidence" not in any peer-reviewed forum but in the pages of their own prospective bestseller, that alone should make us suspicious. The Cheezman smelleth a rat.
It is true that Kosminski was the favored suspect of Scotland Yard at the time of the killings. He was named by chief Inspector Abberline (the guy Johnny Depp played in From Hell) as the culprit. But there are several ways in which Kosminski doesn't fit as the Ripper. Primarily for me is the testimony of several physicians, given both at the time of the murders and in the century since, that the "operation" performed on "Dark Annie" Chapman, in which the murderer surgically removed her uterus in near-complete darkness, could ONLY have been the handiwork of someone with medical training. And Kosminski had NONE.
If this report turns out to be genuine--and that very much remains to be seen--all they will have proven conclusively is that Kosminski was in contact with ONE of the victims and was POSSIBLY her murderer. The evidence for that would never hold up in court. And IF the report proves genuine, that means that somebody ELSE killed Dark Annie. Of course the theory that there were in fact TWO killers has been around for some time, but still. To claim that the mystery is "solved"? That rings hollow, smacks of charlatanism, and makes all us serious students of the case cringe. It sounds like exactly what it is: a sales pitch. Don't fall for it, mi amigos.
Of course I probably shouldn't complain. My theatrical troupe will be debuting my new play, The Belles of Whitechapel, which is based on the Ripper murders, in a few weeks. In that respect, the timing of this new "revelation" couldn't be better. Free publicity for me. I'll take it.
The difference is, I will admit right up front that my play is a fictionalized account of true events. Not the other way around, like this forthcoming book probably is.