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Christopher T. George

Hello, Laura

As with Ms. Cornwell's investigation, I applaud the attempt to bring modern forensic techniques to our famous "cold case." The trouble is that Ms. Cornwell's assumption that the Ripper letters are from the killer ("90%" of such letters, as she has stated) makes for a very shaky hypothesis. The probability is that, as most of us who have studied the case agree, those letters didn't come from the killer. They were written by people wanting their 15 minutes of fame, just like "Wearside Jack" in the Yorkshire Ripper case -- and just as distracting.

It would be possible, yes, to make a DNA profile from the spittle used to lick a stamp on one or more of the envelopes, as Cornwell did, but most likely it would be the DNA of a letter hoaxer, not the killer. And then probably you would not have a control sample to compare it to, to know whose DNA it is, unless that is you want to go out on a limb and choose a suspect such as Walter Sickert, as Ms. Cornwell did, against the indications that the artist was totally innocent of the murders. Interesting, yes, but in the scheme of things, not too important in our study of the case.

All the best

Chris George
North American Editor

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