ROCKHAMPTON'S link to notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper is now more intimate than ever.

Meet that link... Professor Ian Findlay.

He was the last person to have handled and examined the letters Jack the Ripper is believed to have penned after he killed his victims.

Those letters, he told The Morning Bulletin yesterday, were the most substantial and reliable forms of evidence connected to the well-known 1888 Whitechapel district murders.

Prof Findlay is fresh to Rockhampton's academic fraternity as the university's pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching.

Professor Ian Findlay, Pro Vice-Chancellor at CQUiversity. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Professor Ian Findlay, Pro Vice-Chancellor at CQUiversity. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

The newcomer held academic and research positions at several universities including the University of Queensland.

His impressive research record includes pioneering the DNA analysis of small and difficult samples, including being the first to demonstrate forensic DNA profiling of single cells resulting in publications such as Nature and BMJ.

Jack the Ripper is the best-known name given to the unidentified serial killer or killers who were generally believed to have been active in the largely impoverished areas around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888.

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The case in the past week took a new turn, with media reports that the body of Ripper's final victim was set to be exhumed in the hope that the true identity of the world's most infamous serial killer would be revealed.

Dr Wynne Weston-Davies, a former surgeon from the UK, claimed in his book The Real Mary Kelly that the other murders were carried out by her jealous ex-husband, Francis Spurzheim Craig.

Mary Jane Kelly, who was the last person known to be killed by the barbarous murderer, was to have her DNA tested by scientists. Prof Findlay said although mitochondrial DNA, which was passed onto descendants from the mother, could confirm Mary Jane Kelly's identity and her descendants, it would not positively and conclusively identify Francis Spurzheim Craig as Jack the Ripper.

He also said the most genuine and reliable form of evidence was the Ripper letters, which he forensically examined in 2006. Prof Findlay extracted DNA from stamps on the envelope containing the Ripper letters. Test results revealed that the DNA on the stamp belonged to a woman.

He said the letters were the key to the Ripper case.

Prof Findlay said Jack the Ripper's foremost expert, UK man Stewart Evans - who has studied the Ripper case for more than 40 years - was one of the most reliable sources for theories relating to the murders.

Mr Evans' theory was that Jack the Ripper ended up in South America.

"There are new and different theories about Jack the Ripper almost every week... you just have to take them with a grain of salt," he said.



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