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iMediaEthics illustration. (Credit: London Allen, based on antique woodcut and wanted poster)

Did the Mail on Sunday identify who the Victorian-era serial killer Jack the Ripper really was?

Apparently not. The newspaper published a correction after saying a DNA test conclusively identified the serial killer as Aaron Kosminski. Kosminski has previously been rumored to have been Jack the Ripper, but several other rumored suspects have been named in the past as well.

The Mail‘s July 4 article, “The Ripper’s family: Pictures of Victorian respectability, brother and sister of Britain’s most notorious killer,” claimed “DNA evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt” Jack the Ripper’s identity was Kosminski.

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The DNA evidence reportedly came from a blood stain on a Jack the Ripper victim’s clothing. From there someone identified as an “expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes,” Dr. Jari Louhelainen, said the DNA matched Aaron Kosminski’s family and the victim in question, so Jack the Ripper must be Kosminski.

But a man named Chris Phillips complained to IPSO about the article, arguing that the Mail‘s reporting was inaccurate and the scientific claims were both controversial and not vetted by peer review, IPSO reported. IPSO told iMediaEthics it wasn’t sure if Phillips had any familial relationship to the matter.

The complainant Phillips and the Mail worked out the issues with the article, IPSO reported, so IPSO didn’t have to make any ruling. How did they meet in the middle? The Mail deleted the claim about the DNA evidence having proved “beyond reasonable doubt” who Jack the Ripper was and added distancing language to the claims Kosminski was the murderer. The Mail also published this correction:
“On July 5 we said DNA evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Victorian serial killer ‘Jack the Ripper’ was the contemporary suspect Aaron Kosminski. We would like to clarify that this is the conclusion of Dr Jari Louhelainen of Liverpool John Moores University. His work has not yet been subject to peer-review in a scientific journal.”
 Online, a note at the bottom of the Mail article reads: “This article has been amended since its first publication. We would like to make clear that proof of Kosminski’s guilt is the conclusion of Dr Louhelainen’s DNA research which has not yet been subject to peer review.”

 

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Who was Jack the Ripper? UK Mail on Sunday Corrects after Saying Serial Murderer was IDed ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’

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