ONE of the greatest murder mysteries of all time - the identity of Jack the Ripper - may soon be revealed by DNA technology developed in Australia.
Scientist Ian Findlay will use the new test on saliva the notorious serial killer would have left behind if he licked the stamps on the envelopes of letters he sent to London police. Prof. Findlay's method, called Cell Track-ID, is able to extract and compile a DNA fingerprint from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old. Hair believed to be from Catherine Eddowes – one of at least five prostitutes Jack the Ripper is known to have butchered in London's East End during his reign of terror in 1888 – will also be tested.
Prof Findlay, based at Queensland's Griffith University, said if DNA was found intact on the stamps, it could be compared to DNA from the descendants of suspects.
"There were 600 letters sent to police claiming 'I am Jack the Ripper' and while most of theses are hoaxes, some are thought to be genuine," Prof Findlay said.
"But one of the letters was sent with a piece of kidney taken from one of his victims in a box and another with an earlobe – this information was never released by the police at the time.
"It's more likely these letters are from Jack the Ripper.
"We try not to think who or what before we do what we do in the forensic lab – we will let the results speak for themselves," Prof. Findlay said.
CLASSIFICATION: GOOD (and pretty cool)