A Ripper murder (Alamy)
A Ripper murder (Alamy)

Contamination is issue in Jack the Ripper case - DNA expert

CONTAMINATION of evidence is one of the issues facing DNA experts involved with the exhuming of Jack the Ripper's last known victim in Britain.

CQUniversity's Professor Ian Findlay - a renowned tester of DNA linked to Jack the Ripper - is talking to the media this week after the news of the victim's exhumation.

"Contamination is also a major problem. Any small amount of DNA in a sample could be massively overwhelmed by modern DNA resulting in wrong results," he said.

It is believed that Jack the Ripper may have lived in Rockhampton, and if he did, most likely in a house in East Street.

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"Almost every month there is a new book out identifying the Ripper. Almost always someone different. Usually to sell a book!" Professor Findlay says.

"The major problem is that of providence  - that is, proving that evidence such as clothes/blood etcetera  is genuinely related to the crime. Or even from that period.

"This is where my DNA work on the letters was useful - it was on protected DNA from underneath a stamp."

Professor Findlay's impressive research record includes pioneering the DNA analysis of small and difficult samples, including being the first to demonstrate forensic DNA profiling of single cells resulting in publications such as Nature and BMJ.

Professor Findlay featured in a 2006 Catalyst ABC TV program as the scientist who travelled to London to take samples from letters believed to have been written by Jack the Ripper. This world's first and only DNA profile ended up with an unexpected twist, pointing to a female author.

"Most ripper experts who have been studying Jack the Ripper concur that little or no physical evidence exists," he says.

"Even the letters we studied, although certainly from that time and linked to Jack the Ripper, are not proven to be from Jack the Ripper."

Read more of Professor Findlay's comments tomorrow.



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