The Ripper’s Family Pictures of Victorian respectability.
Brother and sister of Britain’s most notorious killer
- In September 2014, The MoS showed Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski was Ripper
- Photos of murderer’s family offer strongest clues yet to what he looked like
- Kosminski was a Polish Jew who had fled to London with his family
- The 19th century portraits show his sister Matilda and brother Isaac
It was the discovery that finally provided an answer to the greatest murder mystery of all time – the identity of Jack the Ripper.
Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed the DNA evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt that the serial killer was Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski.
Now, exclusive photographs of the murderer’s family offer the strongest clues yet to what he looked like.
Kosminski was a Polish Jew who had fled to London with his family, escaping the Russian pogroms in the early 1880s.
The portraits of his sister, Matilda, and brother, Isaac, offer an insight into the Ripper’s respectable family background. Isaac was a successful tailor in Whitechapel, East London, while Matilda was a married mother of nine children.
Posing formally in a local studio, Matilda wears a prim, high-necked black dress, and Isaac wears a smart top hat and three-piece suit.
Kosminski lived between the homes of his two brothers and sister in Whitechapel, where he is believed to have worked as a hairdresser. In 1888, he viciously butchered at least five women in the area.
Kosminski was among the police’s chief suspects
In the aftermath of the murders, Kosminski, a paranoid schizophrenic, was among the police’s chief suspects, but they did not have enough evidence to convict him, despite identification by a witness.
In 1890 he was admitted to the workhouse and spent the rest of his life in mental asylums. Around this time, his family left London for Manchester, returning a few years later. Kosminski died aged 53 in Leavesden Asylum, in 1919.
He was unmasked as the Ripper following an investigation by businessman Russell Edwards.
Mr Edwards bought a blood-soaked shawl found by the body of Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes, and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, an expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.
Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material. He compared it to DNA from a British descendant of Matilda, as well as DNA from a descendant of Eddowes, and both proved a perfect match.
A picture of Kosminski’s sister Matilda. Posing formally in a local studio, Matilda wears a prim, high-necked black dress.
Mr Edwards, who has started a company giving tours of the real Ripper’s Whitechapel, says: ‘Eye-witness Israel Schwartz described a man between 5ft 5in and 5ft 7in, broad-shouldered, dark-haired, with a moustache, and foreign.
The photograph of Kosminski’s brother Isaac fits that description. His picture, and that of his sister, takes us a step closer to knowing what the face of the Ripper looked like.’