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Mark Stapleton
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Hi all

Dr. Findlay himself admitted on "Casebook: Jack the Ripper" message boards that the hopes for what he would find through his investigation were overblown in the press. He hopes to advance knowledge in the field and has a chance to do so if he can extract DNA. However the chances are remote that Jack the Ripper will beidentified. The chances are slim of finding usable DNA on any crime scene artifacts, of which there virtually are none, or of being able to match a suspect's DNA to a Ripper letter, which most authorities think are hoaxes any way, despite what Patricia Cornwell claims in her investigation.

In any case, following is what I wrote up about Dr. Findlay's investigation for the latest (December) issue of Ripperologist.

Chris

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Australian DNA Investigation

Australian Pathologist Ian Findlay of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia (and formerly of Leeds University in northern England) is hoping to use DNA to further knowledge of the Jack the Ripper case. While admitting that such techniques might not identify the murderer, Findlay says that testing such artifacts as a rope of hair allegedly from victim Catherine Eddowes now in the possession of Stephen Ryder, owner of the ‘Casebook: Jack the Ripper’ website.

Findlay is reported to have developed 'a method, called Cell Track-ID, [that] is able to extract and compile a DNA fingerprint from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old.'

On 6 November, Ryder on the ‘Casebook’ message boards stated: ‘About two weeks ago I happened to catch an Australian press piece which had an interview with Prof. Findlay. The article discussed his new method of extracting usable DNA samples from old strands of hair (160+ years old). Prof. Findlay happened to mention in the article that he would love to apply this new type of testing to historical cases such as that of Jack the Ripper. 'This was of interest to me, because I've recently acquired a plait of hair which was alleged to have been taken from the body of Catherine Eddowes. The hair and other artifacts which accompanied it are discussed in depth in the current Ripperologist, so I won't go into too much detail here, except to say that they all appear to me to have been modern (1960s/1970s) hoaxes. Regardless, I shared this information with Prof. Findlay, and he said he would be interested in testing the hair to conclusively state once and for all whether or not it was taken from the body of Catherine Eddowes. The hair will be tested against samples we hope to acquire from living Eddowes descendants.’

At this point, Prof. Findlay is trying to acquire other Ripper artifacts for possible DNA testing. Findlay stated on the ‘Casebook’ message boards on 6 November, ‘The Cell-Track DNA system is a significant advance over mitochondrial [DNA testing] (used by [Patricia] Cornwell) which as others have noted has significant limitations. STR profiling is the standard DNA fingerprinting used worldwide and has much increased specificity to genetically identify the source of small and/or old samples.’

Findlay continued, ‘If samples (such as stamps, letters) exist, they could be tested for DNA fingerprint. Of course the presence of the DNA fingerprint does not confirm the Ripper - just adds additional supportive info to the puzzle. The DNA fingerprint could be compared to living (or dead) relatives (just need some direct relatives certainly don't need ALL the relatives) of possible suspects to establish links. As the specificity of this DNA fingerprint system is so high (billions to one), then a close link could strengthen the case aganst that suspect.’ Anyone with possible Ripper artifacts that they are willing to have tested is encouraged to contact Prof. Findlay through Ryder’s ‘Casebook: Jack the Ripper’ website http://casebook.org/ or through his own website

http://www.gribblesmolecular.com/

Edited by Christopher T. George
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  • 1 month later...

Hi Mark

Dr. Findlay might still come up with something useful to further knowledge of the case, depending what he is sent as a result of his appeal to receive artifacts from the case. However, the results to date, I understand, have been disappointing. The following is the way we reported the first results of his investigation in the January issue of Ripperologist (no. 63):

Findlay DNA Results Are Inconclusive

As we reported in December in Ripperologist 62, Prof Ian Findlay at Queensland’s Griffith University has developed a new DNA analysis which he hopes will help to increase knowledge of the Ripper case. On 24 January on the ‘Casebook: Jack the Ripper’ message boards, Prof Findlay reported that unfortunately his analysis of samples obtained from ‘Ripper letters’ and from a braid of hair alleged to be from victim Catherine Eddowes have up to this point been inconclusive.

Findlay stated, ‘We performed two types of forensic DNA analysis: nuclear and mitochondrial. As previously stated, nuclear is more powerful with specificity around the billion to 1 mark. Whereas mitochondrial can be approximately be 20 to 100 to 1. . . .’

‘We tested the hair braid and hairs from known descendants of Eddowes using mitochondrial sequencing. The descendants’ hairs were consistent with both descendant having a common maternal ancestor, in this case likely to be Eddowes. However, the hair braid consistently failed to provide a profile. This could be due to: 1. technique failing. Possible but unlikely as the technique worked well with other hair. 2. As the test looks for human DNA sequences, this could indicate that hair is not human. Nuclear testing on the hair provided several partial DNA profiles, including male, which may simply be from cellular contamination on the hair rather than from the hair. Conclusion: We cannot determine that the hair braid is from Eddowes or not. In fact, it is possible that the hair braid is not human and therefore not from Eddowes.’

Regarding the ‘Ripper letters,’ Findlay said, ‘The good news is that we obtained nuclear DNA forensic profiles from the Openshaw [letter] envelope seal samples (and hence possibly from the sender) and blood stains from two [other ‘Ripper’] letters. This demonstrates that nuclear DNA exists and that our techniques can detect it. I understand (though may be wrong) that [Patricia] Cornwell’s team failed to obtain nuclear DNA profiles but did obtain a mitochondrial profile from the envelope seal.’

He continued: ‘[The] bad news is that unfortunately all the profiles are partial and inconclusive and may originate from multiple persons. This isn’t very surprising considering that the letters etc would have been handled dozens to hundreds of times over the last 120 years – often without gloves etc. In conclusion – although DNA profiles from letters were obtained, they are inconclusive.’ Prof Findlay concluded: ‘Although our DNA techniques have worked, it appears that the notoriety of the Ripper case may have worked against us as the letters and hair braid have been handled multiple times thus contaminating the samples.’

For more on the DNA technique used by Prof Findlay see http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20051...ripper_tec.html

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Hi Mark

Dr. Findlay might still come up with something useful to further knowledge of the case, depending what he is sent as a result of his appeal to receive artifacts from the case. However, the results to date, I understand, have been disappointing. The following is the way we reported the first results of his investigation in the January issue of Ripperologist (no. 63):

Findlay DNA Results Are Inconclusive

As we reported in December in Ripperologist 62, Prof Ian Findlay at Queensland’s Griffith University has developed a new DNA analysis which he hopes will help to increase knowledge of the Ripper case. On 24 January on the ‘Casebook: Jack the Ripper’ message boards, Prof Findlay reported that unfortunately his analysis of samples obtained from ‘Ripper letters’ and from a braid of hair alleged to be from victim Catherine Eddowes have up to this point been inconclusive.

Findlay stated, ‘We performed two types of forensic DNA analysis: nuclear and mitochondrial. As previously stated, nuclear is more powerful with specificity around the billion to 1 mark. Whereas mitochondrial can be approximately be 20 to 100 to 1. . . .’

‘We tested the hair braid and hairs from known descendants of Eddowes using mitochondrial sequencing. The descendants’ hairs were consistent with both descendant having a common maternal ancestor, in this case likely to be Eddowes. However, the hair braid consistently failed to provide a profile. This could be due to: 1. technique failing. Possible but unlikely as the technique worked well with other hair. 2. As the test looks for human DNA sequences, this could indicate that hair is not human. Nuclear testing on the hair provided several partial DNA profiles, including male, which may simply be from cellular contamination on the hair rather than from the hair. Conclusion: We cannot determine that the hair braid is from Eddowes or not. In fact, it is possible that the hair braid is not human and therefore not from Eddowes.’

Regarding the ‘Ripper letters,’ Findlay said, ‘The good news is that we obtained nuclear DNA forensic profiles from the Openshaw [letter] envelope seal samples (and hence possibly from the sender) and blood stains from two [other ‘Ripper’] letters. This demonstrates that nuclear DNA exists and that our techniques can detect it. I understand (though may be wrong) that [Patricia] Cornwell’s team failed to obtain nuclear DNA profiles but did obtain a mitochondrial profile from the envelope seal.’

He continued: ‘[The] bad news is that unfortunately all the profiles are partial and inconclusive and may originate from multiple persons. This isn’t very surprising considering that the letters etc would have been handled dozens to hundreds of times over the last 120 years – often without gloves etc. In conclusion – although DNA profiles from letters were obtained, they are inconclusive.’ Prof Findlay concluded: ‘Although our DNA techniques have worked, it appears that the notoriety of the Ripper case may have worked against us as the letters and hair braid have been handled multiple times thus contaminating the samples.’

For more on the DNA technique used by Prof Findlay see http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20051...ripper_tec.html

Chris,

Thanks for that. It's disappointing.

I had my hopes pinned on the saliva on the envelopes as I thought it could only be that of the sender. Of course, who knows how many others handled the envelope. It was also probably re-sealed quite a few times.

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Guest Stephen Turner

Hi Mark, Chris. I feel I have neglected these threads for sometime, (its that damn JFK stuff) I am putting together a long post on Mathew Packer, and the detectives, and another on Stephen White, hope you will both post comments/suggestions. Shame about the DNA tests, but the game is still afoot. Regards, Steve.

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