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Kosminski Shawl DNA published as peer reviewed paper in Journal of Forensic Sciences

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
    How long does DNA remain fresh, though? I note that Dr JariLouhelainen defines DNA over 15 years old as "ancient", so that might have a bearing on matters. I myself was in the presence of the shawl nearly 15 years ago, although I don't think my DNA got onto it! If it had, I wonder how fragmented it would have become in the intervening years.
    Fair enough, and I can't answer that. I think it rules out, however, contamination from the recent family members as their DNA would be fresh. Also, they tested randomly selected sections of "areas without stains", and did not find DNA, they only found it in the stained sections.

    They report the frequency for the suspect mtDNA sequences as 1.9 x 10-2, so 0.019, which I'm presuming means about 2% of the population. So, there would be a sizable number of people that could match with the suspect sequences. My main concerns (other than some elaborate forgery) are that if this sequence was very common among eastern European Jews, like Kosminsky, then his family memeber matching it doesn't identify him per se (mitochondrial DNA isn't uniquely identifying, though it can exclude someone).

    At the moment I'm running with what they have reported despite my concerns over where the shawl came from, and the fact that it's apparently silk, has a blue dye that would run if wet, and so it's hard to believe that Eddowes would own such a thing as she couldn't afford it. Also, if it was silk, why didn't they pawn it rather than the boots? However, if the DNA holds up, then we've got some new constraints, and new information would be nice.

    - Jeff

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by jmenges View Post

      Her apron was listed among her possessions.
      • 1 piece of old white apron with repair

      Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown matched this apron, based on its repair, with the portion found in Goulston Street.

      “My attention was called to the apron, particularly the corner of the apron with a string attached. The blood spots were of recent origin. I have seen the portion of an apron produced by Dr. Phillips and stated to have been found in Goulston Street. It is impossible to say that it is human blood on the apron. I fitted the piece of apron, which had a new piece of material on it (which had evidently been sewn on to the piece I have), the seams of the borders of the two actually corresponding. Some blood and apparently faecal matter was found on the portion that was found in Goulston Street.”

      JM
      Ah, ok, that must come from a different list as it's not in the one from the previous post.

      If so, then that negates the "shawl wrapped around the middle", as now it can't also be described as an apron.

      - Jeff

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
        Just as well, because shawls don't have buttons or flounces ("ruffles"), but skirts can and do.
        Well, buttons can be sewn on, but I was just trying to see if there was a way to reconcile the shawl with her listed belongings on the presumption that the smaller piece was the part cut away and left at Goulston Street, and so it also had to be possibly described as an apron. However, apparently there's a list of her possessions that lists the apron as being white, and that can't be the shawl, so now that house of cards falls down.

        It also makes it tricky, because if the shawl is genuine, that suggests that Kosminsky masterbated at the scene, and I can't fathom how he could have had time for that as well as the murder.

        However, if the mtDNA sequence was common among eastern European Jews, a match with Kosminsky simply means he's not excluded, but nor is it surprising. Also, since we know Eddowes was broke, but somehow made enough money to get drunk and thrown in gaol for a while, then it's possible she found a customer earlier in the day who was also of the eastern European Jewish community, and the stains are from that transaction and have nothing to do with her murder at all. (or, of course, the possibility of hoax, etc).

        Just trying on different hats for awhile. Soon I hope to find one that seems to fit.

        - Jeff

        Comment


        • #49
          Remember that “the shawl” is, when put together, 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. It’s nearly the size of a twin bed sheet. Given the use of adjectives like “large” on the itemized list of her clothing and possessions, if the shawl was at the scene I would expect it to be a bit more accurately described.

          JM

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

            Well, buttons can be sewn on, but I was just trying to see if there was a way to reconcile the shawl with her listed belongings on the presumption that the smaller piece was the part cut away and left at Goulston Street, and so it also had to be possibly described as an apron. However, apparently there's a list of her possessions that lists the apron as being white, and that can't be the shawl, so now that house of cards falls down.

            It also makes it tricky, because if the shawl is genuine, that suggests that Kosminsky masterbated at the scene, and I can't fathom how he could have had time for that as well as the murder.

            However, if the mtDNA sequence was common among eastern European Jews, a match with Kosminsky simply means he's not excluded, but nor is it surprising. Also, since we know Eddowes was broke, but somehow made enough money to get drunk and thrown in gaol for a while, then it's possible she found a customer earlier in the day who was also of the eastern European Jewish community, and the stains are from that transaction and have nothing to do with her murder at all. (or, of course, the possibility of hoax, etc).

            Just trying on different hats for awhile. Soon I hope to find one that seems to fit.

            - Jeff
            And if the shawl was wrapped around her when do you suggest it was taken and given away? All possessions and property are usually bagged up and kept safe after being taken off the victim.

            www.trevormarriott.co.uk

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post
              the fact that it's apparently silk, has a blue dye that would run if wet, and so it's hard to believe that Eddowes would own such a thing
              - Jeff
              Hi Jeff. Water soluble dies aren't suitable for shawls, but they are perfectly suitable for table runners, since they aren't meant to go out in the rain. Why do you refer to this as a shawl? Indeed, why does everyone refer to it as a shawl? What proof do we have that it is one? By referring it to a shawl, aren't the 'scientific' researchers mentally linking it to Kate Eddowes?

              As for Kosminski pleasuring himself at the crime scene, it gets worst than that. There is a lot of strange "Ripperological" theorizing imbedded in this "scientific" paper.

              The authors state that these stains --both blood and alleged semen-- conform to the known "modus operandi" of the Ripper. No explanation for this strange statement is given, but having read the paper several times, it is somewhat clear where Dr. L is heading.

              He and Edwards were given quite a bit of flak the first go around, because they didn't address the fact that there was no evidence of sexual "connection" at any of the crime scenes. Yet here again we have alleged semen on an alleged shawl allegedly found by Amos Simpson who was allegedly at the Mitre Square crime scene despite the fact that he was a Met officer stationed 25 miles away and this was a City of London crime scene.

              But we have a clue.

              Elsewhere in the paper, Drs. L and M speculate that there are the impressions of "internal organs" on this piece of cloth. Uh, this is odd stuff. If Amos Simpson "recovered" this alleged shawl from the crime scene (and Drs. L and M state that he DID) why are there impressions of internal organs on it? We have contemporary sketches of the victim in Mitre Square and she is surrounded by pools of blood. If Kosminski used this table runner as temporary place mat, it would be saturated with blood and gore. Further, Mr. Simpson and his wife make no mention of having found a kidney or a uterus wrapped up in this relic after he allegedly "recovered it" from the crime scene. So we can only conclude that these organ impressions come, not from Mitre Square, but from the Annie Chapman murder, which, in turn, suggests that Chapman and Eddowes shared the same mDNA observed by Drs. L and M.

              Further, the authors speculate near the close of the paper that the alleged shawl belonged, not to Eddowes, but to Kosminski himself. So now we are starting to see a clearer image of what is being implied, and what this reference to the "modus operandi" of the Ripper means. Kosminski, like a Thugee from India, was the owner of, not this "shawl" but a sort of 8' cravat. He strangled his victims with this ritual cloth, slit their throats, and then carried their organs home in it(shades of D'Onston Stephen's neck tie) where he completed his ritual in an unwholesome and solitary manner, creating the smaller stains. I can see no other explanation, since there was no actual evidence of sexual "connection" at the crime scenes themselves.

              A note on the alleged semen. The authors begin their paper by referring to it as "semen like" and elsewhere as "candidate sperm cells." Yet, by the end of paper, they have abandoned all caution and state outright that it is semen. And this, of course, was picked up on by the press, who all announce that semen it indeed was, and this is now repeated in several posts on this thread.

              Yet the only test actually referred to in the paper, was NEGATIVE.

              “The originality of the stains on the shawl was initially tested in several way to reveal any attempts to forge forensic stain patterns, for example, with an acid phosphatase test that proved negative, as would be expected for old semen stains.”

              The prostrate gland (among other things) produces the enzyme acid phosphatase, so testing for the presence of this enzyme is one way to determine if the stain was semen. The test, as noted above, proved negative, but the authors shrug this off as inconclusive, since they were old stains. (How do we know they were?) Perhaps they are right. Could be. Things degrade. But, on the other hand, it could also mean that it isn't semen at all. It may be. It may not be. But of, course, the press and various Ripperological commentators have latched on to the latter, evidently because Kosminski is famous for his solitary vices. Which brings me to my final point.

              Let me ask one simple question. Why was the alleged "shawl" only tested against Kosminski's relatives? Was this an objective way to go about things? I assume Edwards commissioned the original tests. Why didn't he test the stain against the relatives of Druitt, Cutbush, etc? Since mDNA cannot "match" a suspect (it is used for elimination purposes) isn't this stacking the deck? How do I know testing this against the great great grand niece of Monty Druitt or Tommy Cutbush wouldn't have left them in the frame?

              The authors have been "let off the hook" because this is a scientific paper, so they aren't required to touch on the historical aspects they discuss. I disagree. They state directly in their paper that it was meant, not only for scientists, but for "the general reader," especially those interested in "true crime." As such, the provenance of this object should have been given full disclosure. It is an 'in the family for years' sort of provenance, but there is no record of its existence until around 1988 or shortly thereafter. That the original owner is related to Amos Simpson is true. This is conceded. But this was in the distant past, raises its own concerns, and has left me wondering how Drs. L and M knew that old lady Simpson had cut a large section from the "shawl" because it was saturated with blood? At best, it can only be a family legend. At worst it is pure speculation.
              Last edited by rjpalmer; 03-20-2019, 04:36 PM.

              Comment


              • #52
                Great points, Roger.

                As to why its referred to as a "shawl"...David M. Hayes called it that when he wrote on the back of its original frame.

                Click image for larger version

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                JM

                Comment


                • #53
                  Thanks for the photo, JM. The inscription is interesting, to say the least. Perhaps David Melville Hayes just worded it poorly, but the casual reader would assume that the squares had been cut from the cloth "at the time of the discovery." It makes it sound as if it had been part of the collection process of valuable crime scene evidence. Nor does it help that this seems to have first surfaced shortly after the centennial "celebration," if I can use that unfortunate word.



                  Comment


                  • #54
                    From Russell Edwards'
                    ​​Jack the Ripper Experience website, history of the shawl;

                    "​​​​One corner of the shawl is tattered and some material has been cut away. David has always assumed that this had been bloodstained and his grandmother had cut this off and thrown it away, also dabbing one or two more stains with bleach. (David himself had cut out two sections which were later framed)."

                    https://www.thejacktheripperexperien...history-shawl/

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                      Hi Jeff. Water soluble dies aren't suitable for shawls, but they are perfectly suitable for table runners, since they aren't meant to go out in the rain. Why do you refer to this as a shawl? Indeed, why does everyone refer to it as a shawl? What proof do we have that it is one? By referring it to a shawl, aren't the 'scientific' researchers mentally linking it to Kate Eddowes?
                      I refer to it as a shawl because that is how it is referred to in the article. I actually agree with you, that it seems rather an odd dimension for a shawl, and a table runner could be what it was manufactured as. The article actually hints at this as well as they point out the blue dye is unsuitable for an outer garment because it would run if exposed to rain. Given it appears to be more expensive than something Eddowes could afford, I find it difficult to imagine how she could have come into possession of it no matter what name we give it. All I can think of is that either she came across it after it was discarded, or pinched it from somewhere while hop picking. But I still have trouble with the fact that if she had a fairly expensive versatile piece of cloth why they didn't pawn it rather than the boots?

                      And the researchers are calling it a shawl because that is how it is referred to in the letter of provenance and by those in possession of it.

                      As for Kosminski pleasuring himself at the crime scene, it gets worst than that. There is a lot of strange "Ripperological" theorizing imbedded in this "scientific" paper.

                      The authors state that these stains --both blood and alleged semen-- conform to the known "modus operandi" of the Ripper. No explanation for this strange statement is given, but having read the paper several times, it is somewhat clear where Dr. L is heading.
                      To be fair, he presence of blood and the possibly it was in contact with internal organs, would conform to JtR's MO. Like you, though, it was the presence of semen as the suspect material that I found particularly strange. There's been no indication that JtR actually had sex with any of the victims or that he masturbated at any of the crime scenes. Mind you, if he was interrupted during Stride's murder - or if she's unrelated to the series - that's easy to explain. And if, as some have suggested, he might have fled when Cross was coming down the street after Nichol's one could understand why there was nothing found. However, Chapman, Eddowes, and Kelly especially, all provided more than enough time and no mention is made of any such evidence. I think the autopsy even specifically stated there was no signs of recent connection with regards to Eddowes, so presumably if there was semen on any of her belongings it would have been noted.

                      He and Edwards were given quite a bit of flak the first go around, because they didn't address the fact that there was no evidence of sexual "connection" at any of the crime scenes. Yet here again we have alleged semen on an alleged shawl allegedly found by Amos Simpson who was allegedly at the Mitre Square crime scene despite the fact that he was a Met officer stationed 25 miles away and this was a City of London crime scene.

                      But we have a clue.

                      Elsewhere in the paper, Drs. L and M speculate that there are the impressions of "internal organs" on this piece of cloth. Uh, this is odd stuff. If Amos Simpson "recovered" this alleged shawl from the crime scene (and Drs. L and M state that he DID) why are there impressions of internal organs on it? We have contemporary sketches of the victim in Mitre Square and she is surrounded by pools of blood. If Kosminski used this table runner as temporary place mat, it would be saturated with blood and gore. Further, Mr. Simpson and his wife make no mention of having found a kidney or a uterus wrapped up in this relic after he allegedly "recovered it" from the crime scene. So we can only conclude that these organ impressions come, not from Mitre Square, but from the Annie Chapman murder, which, in turn, suggests that Chapman and Eddowes shared the same mDNA observed by Drs. L and M.
                      Louhelainen and Miller report the details of what they've been told about the shawl and how it came to be in the family's possession. Nothing in the DNA gathering process they are reporting, or the DNA testing they are doing, can inform us directly about the accuracy of the family's story. Given we know such stories, and memory, tend to change over time, I rather suspect that the account is not accurate in many details. If the cloth was from Eddowes, and if it was obtained by Simpson, then what seems most likely is that it was given to him after the autopsy at least, and probably after the inquest. In 1888 there was nothing they could do with victim's possessions in terms of investigation, so there was no reason to preserve such evidence. Simpson may have requested it because it was being discarded and he wanted something from what was even then considered the biggest crime mystery of the century type thing. Personally, I think that's a pretty strange thing to do, particularly the fact that it was apparently then kept "as is" rather than washed and displayed as some kind of macabre memento.

                      In short, I don't think the details of how Simpson came into possession of the shawl could be correct (again, presuming he did), but it could come into his possession through his work connections in a way and time that could easily morph into the story as told by the family.


                      Further, the authors speculate near the close of the paper that the alleged shawl belonged, not to Eddowes, but to Kosminski himself. So now we are starting to see a clearer image of what is being implied, and what this reference to the "modus operandi" of the Ripper means. Kosminski, like a Thugee from India, was the owner of, not this "shawl" but a sort of 8' cravat. He strangled his victims with this ritual cloth, slit their throats, and then carried their organs home in it(shades of D'Onston Stephen's neck tie) where he completed his ritual in an unwholesome and solitary manner, creating the smaller stains. I can see no other explanation, since there was no actual evidence of sexual "connection" at the crime scenes themselves.
                      I agree, those two lines in the conclusion section don't fit well with the JtR case. However, the author's are only pointing out that the fact the dye would run if it got rained on, combined with the fact it was more expensive than something the victim would own, are points that support a particular theory about the shawl. Their investigation is not, however, testing that particular theory. Basically, a fuller examination of the question of "where did it come from" would be an entirely different paper that would focus upon different sets of evidence. Like yourself, I think the notion that JtR brought and left this at Eddowes' crime scene unlikely as one of the characteristics of these murders was the fact that nothing appears to have been left behind. So an investigation into the item itself would ultimately reject that theory despite these points. But again, the article is about demonstrating that nondestructive techniques can be used to obtain genetic material from historical artefacts while avoiding contamination.

                      A note on the alleged semen. The authors begin their paper by referring to it as "semen like" and elsewhere as "candidate sperm cells." Yet, by the end of paper, they have abandoned all caution and state outright that it is semen. And this, of course, was picked up on by the press, who all announce that semen it indeed was, and this is now repeated in several posts on this thread.

                      Yet the only test actually referred to in the paper, was NEGATIVE.

                      “The originality of the stains on the shawl was initially tested in several way to reveal any attempts to forge forensic stain patterns, for example, with an acid phosphatase test that proved negative, as would be expected for old semen stains.”

                      The prostrate gland (among other things) produces the enzyme acid phosphatase, so testing for the presence of this enzyme is one way to determine if the stain was semen. The test, as noted above, proved negative, but the authors shrug this off as inconclusive, since they were old stains. (How do we know they were?) Perhaps they are right. Could be. Things degrade. But, on the other hand, it could also mean that it isn't semen at all. It may be. It may not be. But of, course, the press and various Ripperological commentators have latched on to the latter, evidently because Kosminski is famous for his solitary vices. Which brings me to my final point.
                      Semen shows up under different lighting conditions (UV for example) and shows particular patterns over various lighting conditions, and these stains show that property. This is a positive indicator for semen; to quote from page 5 "...and stains that followed the behaviour of semen stains under reflective UV light" - this is the positive test for the presence of semen, which is why they refer to them as semen stains. However, it doesn't differentiate old from new stains. This is why they then tested for the age of the stain after having identified it as semen. The test they ran returns a positive result for recent (don't know how recent, if we're talking years, or decades) and negative for old (1888 qualifies as old in this case). And so getting a negative result here isn't a negative result for semen, it's a negative result for recent. Combined, the results point to a not recent semen stain.


                      Let me ask one simple question. Why was the alleged "shawl" only tested against Kosminski's relatives? Was this an objective way to go about things? I assume Edwards commissioned the original tests. Why didn't he test the stain against the relatives of Druitt, Cutbush, etc? Since mDNA cannot "match" a suspect (it is used for elimination purposes) isn't this stacking the deck? How do I know testing this against the great great grand niece of Monty Druitt or Tommy Cutbush wouldn't have left them in the frame?
                      Yes, that would have been nice for us, however, that's a different research question. All the author's needed to show was that a comparison could be made. It would have been just as publishable if the results clearly excluded Aaron Kosminsky because it would still have demonstrated that a comparable sample could be obtained. The paper is not really about "solving Jack the Ripper", that's the interest here, but not the point of the research they were conducting. The JtR link is just added "fluff" for them. I would not be surprised to find that they were given access to the item on the condition they make the comparison with the two descendants chosen by the owner of the artifact. For their interest, who they compare it to is irrelevant. In fact, they could have obtained a paper simply by showing 1) they obtained a profile from the material and 2) it doesn't match with any of the known and recent sources of contamination and 3) the profile they obtained is not one that has never been found before, so it's a known human mtDNA pattern. You're viewing the article as if the reseach is "about" solving JtR, it's not, it's about the non-destructive technique for gathering DNA samples from historical items. From their point of view, ensuring that the stains are not of recent origin is all they had to do.
                      The authors have been "let off the hook" because this is a scientific paper, so they aren't required to touch on the historical aspects they discuss. I disagree. They state directly in their paper that it was meant, not only for scientists, but for "the general reader," especially those interested in "true crime." As such, the provenance of this object should have been given full disclosure. It is an 'in the family for years' sort of provenance, but there is no record of its existence until around 1988 or shortly thereafter. That the original owner is related to Amos Simpson is true. This is conceded. But this was in the distant past, raises its own concerns, and has left me wondering how Drs. L and M knew that old lady Simpson had cut a large section from the "shawl" because it was saturated with blood? At best, it can only be a family legend. At worst it is pure speculation.
                      Again, you're criticism is based upon the premise that the research question is primarily about JtR. They're let "off the hook" on that issue because the JtR aspect of the artifact is entirely irrelevant to the evidence technique that is being presented. It doesn't matter if the item is connected to JtR or not, it only matters that the stains of genetic material are not recent. Their testing indicated they were sufficiently old to rule out recent deposits. The material was also such that surface contamination is a valid concern and they are demonstrating that a protocol can be followed that appears to overcome that concern. That is what the paper is about. The JtR links are what make it of interests to non-experts in this area so they touch upon that, but that's just "general interest stuff tangential to the research question", again which is methodological technique. It's like saying a hippo is a really ugly puppy despite it being a pretty nifty hippo. It's critiquing it for what it is not rather than critiquing the article for what it is. Once we recognize it's not "about JtR per se", then it's entirely without surprise that when they do mention the JtR side of things that's going to be weak. What we can't do, though, is say the DNA side of the findings is weak because the JtR side is; that's the ugly puppy comparison.

                      And from the DNA side, they seem to have a match with Eddowes maternal line, but as far as I understand it, their DNA comparison with the Kosminsky maternal line seems to actually exonerate Kosminsky, but it might identify that JtR was a member of the same ethnic group as Kosminsky. If that were the case, then it becomes a question of determining the actual connection between the item in question and the claim it is related to the JtR murders.

                      - Jeff

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

                        Semen shows up under different lighting conditions (UV for example) and shows particular patterns over various lighting conditions, and these stains show that property. This is a positive indicator for semen; to quote from page 5 "...and stains that followed the behaviour of semen stains under reflective UV light" - this is the positive test for the presence of semen, which is why they refer to them as semen stains.
                        No offense, Jeff, but you'’re wrong about that.

                        UV detection is not a “positive” indication of semen. It’s just a fast, initial, and convenient indicator that needs to be verified through other tests. It’'s easy to sweep a crime screen with UV light, but other tests need to be conducted to confirm what is being seen.

                        Sadly demonstrating my current state of idleness, I actually read several scientific articles last night on the detection of semen stains. Check out the following:

                        “There are many molecules (natural and artificial) that will fluoresce in a similar way as semen, and therefore, this detection technique is highly presumptive. Furthermore, not all semen stains will fluoresce under such specialized lights. Exposure of the sample to factors such as heat, humidity, oxidizing agents, and microorganisms such as bacteria and mold can affect this fluorescent activity.


                        “High presumptive,” Jeff, not “positive.”

                        The question of heat, humidity, microorganisms, etc., also raises the question as to whether the protein cells that cause semen to fluoresce would not degrade significantly over time, indicating the stain is of a more recent origin. That said, some Italian scientists claim to have discovered confirmed semen stains using UV light that were known to be 100 years old, so it is an open question.

                        Further, though it is not recorded in the current paper, the alleged semen samples on the alleged “shawl” were subjected to other tests. Drs. L and M recovered 12 cells from the sample and found no evidence of sperm …which worried Dr. Miller. They concluded the substance contained “squamous epithelial cells” (not sperm cells) which could come from urine, spit, mucous, etc. This is not mentioned in the current paper. (Thanks to Chris P. for providing this citation)

                        Considering that the other test showed no trace of acid phosphatase, which is present in high amounts in semen (coming from the prostate gland) this is another negative result, though it could be explained by the sample being old. Could be.

                        Put all together, the claim that this is semen is not proven.


                        I think I called it “prostrate” in my initial post, which probably signals that I should take a nap now, and get prostrate (and not prostate) for a good long while. Catch you tomorrow, Jeff.


                        Last edited by rjpalmer; 03-20-2019, 09:00 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          P.S. Oh, one other thing.

                          There was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine last Christmas, that stated that mDNA, in rare instances, can be passed on through the paternal line. I have no idea if this study is widely accepted, but it might be interesting to hear the geneticists duke it out.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                            No offense, Jeff, but you'’re wrong about that.

                            UV detection is not a “positive” indication of semen. It’s just a fast, initial, and convenient indicator that needs to be verified through other tests. It’'s easy to sweep a crime screen with UV light, but other tests need to be conducted to confirm what is being seen.



                            No offense taken. I had at one point while composing my post had included something along the lines of "UV fluorescence is not unique to semen", but decided I was getting sidetracked. And I should have qualified "positive test" as simply indicating "consistency with" as opposed to "can only be". But yes, it leaves open the possibility the stains are not semen but could be some other molecule that shows similar UV patterns to semen. I don't know what those other molecules are, though, but if they are human biological material that might be deposited by the offender (meaning not something like a fluid from brain tissue, etc), then again it wouldn't matter with regards to the DNA interpretation only with the behavioural inferences that could be drawn. However, if the other molecules are not biological, or not human, the the fact that they found human DNA in the location of those stains, would rule out the alternatives. I'm well outside my own area of research, so the specific details of such are outside my knowledge base. But, they were examining stains, and found human cells, and random sampling of areas without stains, did not.


                            Sadly demonstrating my current state of idleness, I actually read several scientific articles last night on the detection of semen stains. Check out the following:

                            “There are many molecules (natural and artificial) that will fluoresce in a similar way as semen, and therefore, this detection technique is highly presumptive. Furthermore, not all semen stains will fluoresce under such specialized lights. Exposure of the sample to factors such as heat, humidity, oxidizing agents, and microorganisms such as bacteria and mold can affect this fluorescent activity.


                            “High presumptive,” Jeff, not “positive.”
                            Yah, fair enough.


                            The question of heat, humidity, microorganisms, etc., also raises the question as to whether the protein cells that cause semen to fluoresce would not degrade significantly over time, indicating the stain is of a more recent origin. That said, some Italian scientists claim to have discovered confirmed semen stains using UV light that were known to be 100 years old, so it is an open question.
                            Sure, but it sounds like there is confirmation that 100 year old semen stains can retain their UV responsiveness. If it didn't, then the UV tests would, presumably, mean either the stain is semen and more recent than 100 years, or it's not semen. Given that 100 year old stains can respond to UV, then these concerns don't necessarily arise. Of course, if it can happen but is rare for it to retain it's UV responsiveness, then that is a different matter, but that is something that should have been caught during peer review (which is not, of course, infallible).


                            Further, though it is not recorded in the current paper, the alleged semen samples on the alleged “shawl” were subjected to other tests. Drs. L and M recovered 12 cells from the sample and found no evidence of sperm …which worried Dr. Miller. They concluded the substance contained “squamous epithelial cells” (not sperm cells) which could come from urine, spit, mucous, etc. This is not mentioned in the current paper. (Thanks to Chris P. for providing this citation)
                            That's a concern as it's always a problem when tests were done but not reported. Unfortunately, this can happen during the review process (reviewers insist some analysis be removed because it's "not necessary" or whatever, and the editor agrees) or it can happen during the writing phase as authors try and make the article concise, forgetting that knowing how many tests and what those tests were, are important things to consider when viewing results.

                            If spit, let's say, also contains molecules that react similar to semen, then while that might change the interpretation of what the stains were, and how they got there, but it wouldn't change the fact that they came from a human who, apparently, has a fairly similar mtDNA pattern to a known (or presumed known) individual who shares a maternal line with Aaron Kosminsky.


                            Considering that the other test showed no trace of acid phosphatase, which is present in high amounts in semen (coming from the prostate gland) this is another negative result, though it could be explained by the sample being old. Could be.
                            Yes, research papers are generally written using very conservative language. "Could be" simply means there's nothing to indicate this is wrong, though they acknowledge there "could be" an alternative explanation - even if they cannot think of one right now, and nobody has suggested one. It's basically acknowledging that we don't know everything. If there were an obvious alternative, again, that's supposed to come up in peer review, they should have been asked something like "well, what you have so far could also arise if the substance that produced the stain was lamp oil, or maybe a tallow wax stain, etc", and if so they need to verify that. However, if it were whale oil or tallow, the finding of human cells in that location, and not others, starts to stretch things.

                            Put all together, the claim that this is semen is not proven.
                            Ok, let's say it is not semen. It still marked location where they found old human cells, that apparently have mtDNA sequences similar to (but by my reading not actually identical) to the mtDNA of the Kosminsky test subject. Such cells were not found in locations that did not contain a stain.

                            While we might be interested in knowing what the substance was exactly, particularly if one of the alternative sources is human saliva rather than semen, simply because that would be indicative of JtR's behavioural pattern, if all of the alternatives are simply different human bodily fluids, for the purpose of the article it might not have been necessary to explore further (particularly if differentiating what fluid it was would require a destructive test - since the whole point of their paper is to illustrate a non-destructive method). And again, if other bodily fluids could also be a source for the stains and would result in the same pattern of results over all the tests they have reported (positive UV pattern, negative age pattern, possible source of the cells they found in that location), then that should have been picked up in the review process. Since they don't make any such qualifications, then either based upon all of what they did the obvious alternatives have been ruled out (and I just don't know enough to know that), or the review process missed it. If the latter, then someone will, probably, follow up and look at the alternatives.


                            I think I called it “prostrate” in my initial post, which probably signals that I should take a nap now, and get prostrate (and not prostate) for a good long while. Catch you tomorrow, Jeff.

                            Anyway, I think it's an interesting study and there are some interesting implications, one of which is that as far as I understand their results, the mtDNA seems to exclude Kosminsky (there are 2 markers that don't match, and that is the criterion for exclusion as they indicate in their discussion section). The shawl/cloth, doesn't appear to be listed in Eddowes' belongings, and the only thing listed that had a similar floral pattern on it is her skirt, but that is listed as being dark green, rather than "brown". It's hard to imagine how such a change in description could arise, though I was toying with that above, unless the shawl could also be described by someone else as her "apron", because then it sounds more like they were describing "how it was worn" rather than "what it is", except that line falls down because her apron is listed as being white.

                            The thing is, if the mtDNA matches Eddowes, which it does (and the mt sequence they found is reported as having a frequency of 1.3x10-3 (so 0.13%, so 1.3 people in a thousand), then while there would have been many people in London with that sequence, not many of them would have bled onto a piece of cloth that one family has a tradition of claiming it comes from a victim of JtR.

                            So, we're left with 1) the item is a genuine artifact 2) the item is historical, but does not come from Eddowes or any of the other JtR murders 3) there is something seriously flawed with the methods used to gather cells from the artifact and they are getting contamination from the maternal donor's 4) there has been some sort of hoax/forgery.

                            If it's #1, then it becomes the historian's job to work out how Eddowes got the shawl, why it's not listed in her list of belongings, and how it came to be in the possession of the Simpson family.

                            If it's #2, then what crime is it associated with, and what a coincidence that the victim in that crime also shared an mtDNA sequence with Eddowes

                            If it's #3 then this should have been caught during the review process because this was the real point of the study in the first place. It does happen than sometimes things get through that shouldn't, but that's just the standard "could be" argument that you've rejected above as the author's playing games, so I won't push it here.

                            If it's #4, then obviously it has nothing to do with the JtR murders, and we're back to everybody and their dog is JtR. The question then becomes who, and how, did they create a forgery/hoax that passed the tests performed to look for such a possibility. But that becomes less interesting to JtR focused research because once shown to be a forgery, it no longer informs to this question (mind you, Diary Days come to mind).

                            Anyway, good chatting with you. Hope you got some sleep.

                            - Jeff

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                              P.S. Oh, one other thing.

                              There was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine last Christmas, that stated that mDNA, in rare instances, can be passed on through the paternal line. I have no idea if this study is widely accepted, but it might be interesting to hear the geneticists duke it out.
                              Oh, that's interesting. I've not heard that, thanks for mentioning. I'll have to look to see if I can find anything on it.

                              - Jeff

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Regarding the alleged semen stains, a correspondent sent me the following link from several years ago, which is well worth reviewing. Note the similarity between semen stains and urine stains in the photographs. I also wonder about mucus stains but have yet to find any reliable photographs. Obviously, if this cloth is a decorative table runner, as used at weddings, holidays, etc., it could have stains from any number of different sources, human and otherwise.

                                https://forum.casebook.org/forum/rip...a-match/page61

                                If you scroll through the link, a very interesting observation was made by a poster identified as Peter Griffith aka gryff:

                                “[Russell] Edwards…dates the shawl as early 1800s (1810-1830?). They had the blue dye tested using NMR spectroscopy and claim it was - woad (I'd like to know more about that but it is off topic).

                                At that time there were two methods of dying fabric with indigo (the blue dye in woad). One of them was the urine vat process where the fabric is soaked repeatedly in a vat containing urine and woad. Urine contains epithelial cells. A technique that was considered superior to the alternative "copperas vat" process as it was gentler to the fabric. Other processes were invented later such as the "zinc/lime vat" (1845) and the "hydrosulfite vat" (1880) - but they don't fit in with the dates Edwards ascribes to the shawl.

                                I note the similarity of the urine and semen images.”


                                Quite an intriguing post.

                                Since no sperm cells were found in the alleged “semen” stains, but epithelial cells WERE found, how do we know that what Dr. L and M recovered wasn’t from the urine used in the dying of the fabric?

                                The issue I have with Jeff’s comments above is that he seems to be assuming that the mDNA recovered from the stains, originated in the stains. This is a leap of faith, and why must it be the case? The stains could obviously have originated from hundreds of different sources and were then subsequently contaminated by human mDNA sometime over the preceding 100 years.

                                In reviewing what I have at hand, it doesn’t appear that any unstained sections of the fabric were independently examined to eliminate the possibility that the epithelial cells didn’t come from the dye stuff, rather than the alleged semen stain. Is there any information on this?

                                But all of this seems almost superfluous, considering that the provenance is so entirely dubious.

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