I realize that in 2014, a writer claimed to have solved the Jack the Ripper case naming Aaron Kosminski as the ripper.

Although many seem to dispute the claim that DNA evidence linked Kosminski to the crime, others believe that Kosminski was the ripper.

Is there any resources BEFORE this DNA evidence naming Kosminski as a suspect? I am curious to read the case against Kosminski prior to the DNA testing.

3 Answers 3


There is a very good article written in 1999 discussing in detail the pros and cons of Kosminski as a suspect.

The article is very long, so I have included a few excerpts from casebook.org:

In assessing the status of Kosminski as a suspect we are left with this to judge its strength. Sir Robert Anderson, whose main case seems to rest upon the witness identification, makes the strongest assertion that he could be ‘Jack the Ripper’. However, for the identification to have been conducted suspicion must first have existed that Kosminski could be the killer. That suspicion was insufficient, on its own; to warrant his arrest or charge. So it must be the case that the identification procedure took place as a result of information received by the police that he could be the ‘Ripper.’ This information would most likely have come from family or someone who knew Kosminski, (someone like Jacob Cohen who gave the authorities information on Kosminski’s illness). If it was family then perhaps his sister (who had been threatened by him) was a likely informer, whilst the rest of the family refused to condemn him.

Whatever the suspicion was, if Anderson and Swanson are largely correct, and there is nothing to show they are not, it was deemed that an attempt at identification should take place. Whatever the circumstances we know that Macnaghten, as stated, also knew of Kosminski and that he "strongly resembled the individual seen by the City PC [sic] near Mitre Square," and "There were many circumstances connected with this man which made him a strong ‘suspect’."

The following link is a great resource for Jack the Ripper enthusiasts: http://www.casebook.org/index.html

  • 1
    Could you possibly link the article? On the face of it, I'm not sure I agree with the logic in that excerpt, but I'd like to read a bit more context. Perhaps my qualms would be assuaged if I'd read more.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:20
  • 1
  • @T.E.D. it is a long article with another link featuring an interesting dissertation. This whole website is very helpful for any questions about Jack the ripper. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:26

The thing I find most interesting about this story is not that someone has claimed to have solved the murders, but how many such people have claimed it over the years.

The only mention I could find for actual information backing up the initial suspicion was a claim by Assistant Commissioner Robert Anderson (not the lead investigator) that he had been identified by an eyewitness:

Anderson claimed that the Ripper had been identified by the "only person who had ever had a good view of the murderer", but that no prosecution was possible because both the witness and the culprit were Jews, and Jews were not willing to offer testimony against fellow Jews. Swanson's notes state that "Kosminski" was identified at "the Seaside Home", which was the Police Convalescent Home in Brighton.

The reason for the quotes on "Kosminski" is that no first name was ever supplied. It appears that the Ripper author in question just took this name, matched it up with some other details provided and asylum records, decided it was probably Aaron, and then ran the tests using DNA from some living relatives. There is some reason to believe Aaron might not have been the person they were talking about.

And that's not even getting into the fact that there were no less than 7 other men suspected of the crime by police at the time.

  • Wasn't there more than 7 suspects at the time? Including the Duke of Clarence and Lewis Carroll..just to name a few. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:18
  • @steelerfan - Probably. That's why I said, "no less than". :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:22
  • Got it...I always thought those two suspects were the most ridiculous :) Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:27

It is usually believed that Jack the Ripper was a serial killer. Serial killers usually keep on killing until they die, are caught, are institutionalized for other reasons, or move out of the region to start killing elsewhere. It is rare for a serial killer to just stop killing.

In 1888 millions of men lived in London. And hundreds of thousands or millions more men lived within an easy commute of London due to the railroads.

It would be possible to list every single man in the 1888 London city directories and every single man in the 1889 London City directories in a computer program. Comparing the two lists would produce a list of men who disappeared from their old addresses between the directories and another list of men who appeared in new addresses between the directories.

And the same could be done for all the suburban towns where it was normal to commute to London.

Then a really massive historical and genealogical research project could try to identify which of the men who disappeared from old addresses simply moved to new addresses in the Region, who died, who were imprisoned for other crimes, who wee institutionalized, and who moved to other regions of the UK or to other countries.

Anyone who disappeared from his old address between 1888 and 1889 and could not be proven to have simply moved to another address in the London region, but instead died, was incarcerated or institutionalized, or moved out of the region, or simply vanished from the records, would be a potential Jack the Ripper suspect.

And my guess is that there would be tens or hundreds of thousands of those potential Jack the Ripper suspects.

This Wikipedia article lists 29 suspects:


And then goes on to name at least nine more suspects.

But even if there are a hundred previously suggested Jack the Ripper suspects, there would be tens or hundreds of thousands of other potential suspects. So I tend to doubt that the Ripper was one of the usual suspects who are often mentioned.

Of course the police believed that Jack the Ripper was probably a resident of Whitechapel, and most residents of that area were poor and transient and not likely to have been listed in the 1888 city directories, and the same could be said about many thousands of other men living in other neighborhoods in the London area.

Because of various "Jill the Ripper" theories, women would have to be considered too, doubling the amount of work, and of course women were less likely to be listed in city directories than men and would be under represented.

We might also consider a "Jack the Nipper" possibility, that the Ripper was a teenager living with his parents and working in the family business as an assistant and not listed in the city directories from 1888.

And of course it is possible that Jack the Ripper was an unusual serial killer who simply stopped killing while still alive, and free, and living in the same area.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.