One of the Jack the Ripper letters included lock of hair
THEY could have held the answer to revealing Jack the Ripper's identity.
But the forensic value of letters believed penned by the killer has most likely been ruined.
That's according to CQUniversity's new learning and teaching pro vice-chancellor Professor Ian Findlay, who this week gave The Morning Bulletin access to copyrighted images of Jack the Ripper's letters.
The images were snapped during his examination of the Ripper letters in 2006... the last time anyone had ever handled and examined the letters for DNA.
Prof Findlay has 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.
The images he captured were of letters Jack the Ripper was believed to have penned.
In one of the images was a braided lock of hair belonging to Catherine Eddowes, the second person killed in the Whitechapel murders.
Prof Findlay said maintaining DNA evidence over time was hard but he managed to establish that an envelope containing a Ripper letter had on it a stamp that was licked by a woman.
Further to the issue of degradation over time, authorities from the National Archives in London decided to laminate the letters.
This procedure, according to Prof Findlay, would have destroyed any DNA cells on the envelope stamps.