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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Letters and Communications > Openshaw Letter

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  #1  
Old 06-14-2016, 06:30 AM
Aldebaran Aldebaran is offline
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Default The Stamp and DNA

A stamp would have been the best source of DNA available in the Jack the Ripper matter, if it was still on the paper--as nobody else could have touched the back of the stamp. DNA, of course, would have been in the saliva used to lick the stamp. Prof. Findlay opined that the DNA belonged to a female in the case of the Openshaw letter. On the one hand, the Ripper [if it was really the killer and not just some man pretending to be he] could have just casually asked some female to stamp and mail the letter. That there was some design behind that is not likely because blood typing or grouping was not even a procedure during the period when the Ripper was active and DNA certainly not a concept. So no one would have worried about anything being deduced from that stamp or any other. Under those circumstances, it makes the most sense that whoever wrote the most suspicious letters [there were many others that were discounted] would probably have wanted to do that under complete privacy--and put the stamps on and mailed the letters in the most surreptitious manner without involving a second party, who would have been able to view the address. When it comes to trickery, women can be just as twisted as men.

I have heard that the Openshaw letter was used by author Patricia Cornwell during her investigation into Walter Sickert being the Ripper. She maintained that the paper used for this letter came from the same manufacturers as paper used by Sickert. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the stamp on the envelope was also, according to Cornwell, the same as that found on other Sickert letters. Does anyone know any more about that last assertion--if it was really true?
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:55 PM
Aldebaran Aldebaran is offline
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I found what I was looking for right here!

http://www.casebook.org/dissertation...ndsickert.html
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  #3  
Old 06-14-2016, 07:02 PM
GUT GUT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldebaran View Post
A stamp would have been the best source of DNA available in the Jack the Ripper matter, if it was still on the paper--as nobody else could have touched the back of the stamp. DNA, of course, would have been in the saliva used to lick the stamp. Prof. Findlay opined that the DNA belonged to a female in the case of the Openshaw letter. On the one hand, the Ripper [if it was really the killer and not just some man pretending to be he] could have just casually asked some female to stamp and mail the letter. That there was some design behind that is not likely because blood typing or grouping was not even a procedure during the period when the Ripper was active and DNA certainly not a concept. So no one would have worried about anything being deduced from that stamp or any other. Under those circumstances, it makes the most sense that whoever wrote the most suspicious letters [there were many others that were discounted] would probably have wanted to do that under complete privacy--and put the stamps on and mailed the letters in the most surreptitious manner without involving a second party, who would have been able to view the address. When it comes to trickery, women can be just as twisted as men.

I have heard that the Openshaw letter was used by author Patricia Cornwell during her investigation into Walter Sickert being the Ripper. She maintained that the paper used for this letter came from the same manufacturers as paper used by Sickert. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the stamp on the envelope was also, according to Cornwell, the same as that found on other Sickert letters. Does anyone know any more about that last assertion--if it was really true?
You seem to be unaware that many stamps would be pressed on a damp sponge to wet them. Thus the DNA of the sender may not even be on the back of the stamp, but rather the DNA of

The last person to touch the sponge or
The person who sold the sponge

And unless you can ascertain that Jack wrote the letter you are testing, at most you get a link to a letter writer, and still need to prove that the killer wrote it.
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There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:27 PM
DJA DJA is offline
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Hi GUT!

Are you suggesting The Openshaw Letter is sponge worthy
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  #5  
Old 06-14-2016, 07:50 PM
GUT GUT is offline
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Hi GUT!

Are you suggesting The Openshaw Letter is sponge worthy
Yuck, yuck yuck.

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Old 06-15-2016, 02:44 AM
Pierre Pierre is offline
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[quote=GUT;384651]You seem to be unaware that many stamps would be pressed on a damp sponge to wet them. Thus the DNA of the sender may not even be on the back of the stamp, but rather the DNA of

The last person to touch the sponge or
The person who sold the sponge

Quote:
And unless you can ascertain that Jack wrote the letter you are testing, at most you get a link to a letter writer, and still need to prove that the killer wrote it.
Yes, that is the problem. You may link Mr X to a letter, but if you have no link between Mr X and a murder done by the serial killer in 1888-1889, preferably several murders, it is hopeless.

Regards, Pierre
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:09 AM
GUT GUT is offline
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Yes, that is the problem. You may link Mr X to a letter, but if you have no link between Mr X and a murder done by the serial killer in 1888-1889, preferably several murders, it is hopeless.

Regards, Pierre
I must be wrong Pierre agrees with me.

Now I'm worried.
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Last edited by GUT : 06-15-2016 at 03:12 AM.
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:18 AM
DJA DJA is offline
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Meh!
Doubt anyone deems Pierre sponge worthy.
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  #9  
Old 06-15-2016, 11:41 AM
Aldebaran Aldebaran is offline
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It is certainly possible for a stamp to have been moistened by a sponge but, lacking actual saliva, it is highly unlikely that any human DNA would have survived for more than a century on the back of it. If it was that easy to obtain good DNA from a finger, DNA testing companies would send people a swab for a finger instead of a tube in which to deposit a rather copious amount of saliva. The person who sold the sponge doesn't even enter into the picture.

If one can trust the Internet reports, Prof. Ian Findlay, who performed the DNA testing of the Openshaw letter stamp, concluded it had been licked by a female. Findlay would only have been able to say this if he found no trace of y-DNA on the back of that stamp. This type of DNA is passed on from father to son in a chain that goes back indefinitely—but females get none. If a female had, by some act, managed to leave her DNA on the reverse of the stamp, the y-DNA in the saliva of the male who licked it would probably have been there, regardless.

Once again, the salient points are that no one at the time the Ripper was active would have feared licking a stamp because the saliva might leave some clue as to his or her identity. Also, people at the time would have realized a letter connected to the murders would probably become an item in the newspapers, so a writer would have likely avoided allowing a second party to view it or handle it before sending in the event that a person with a good memory might connect him or her to the address and render a description or possibly even an ID.

One thing is certain, though—DNA for the purpose of identification is only as good as what there is to compare it to. This was made quite clear to the general public when it came to identifying the remains of King Richard III. This last was part of a rare haplogroup associated with his mitochondrial DNA and that helped to clinch the ID. Would it be impossible to add some clues to the ID of Jack the Ripper from his DNA? No, theoretically not, because millions of modern persons now have their DNA on file with the testing companies. The best bet would be y-DNA, listed by some companies in connections with surnames and haplogroups. One could connect Jack to certain families [men with different surnames can have the same y-DNA for reasons not difficult to understand] and know his distant ancestry from the haplogroups. However, the companies would probably not find a reason to compare any possible Ripper DNA that was obtained to that of their customers. One thing that happened with the y-DNA found on the shawl—it couldn't be connected to the “Juwes” because it didn't evidence a haplogroup commonly found in Jewish populations.

Last edited by Aldebaran : 06-15-2016 at 12:06 PM.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2016, 07:46 AM
Aldebaran Aldebaran is offline
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I should add that I think the Openshaw letter was written by an educated person pretending to be an ill-educated one. Everything on the envelope is spelled correctly, including the word "pathological". On the other hand the misspellings of the letter, itself, are overdone and seem deliberate, even adding an "h" onto the beginning of a word to mimic a Cockney accent. If one had gone to school at all and learned to write, one would certainly know better than to put an "h" where it did not belong simply because that was a pronunciation habit in London's East End, the location of the post-mark of the Openshaw letter--or leave out the same letter when it was omitted in speaking.

**Old boss you was rite it was the left kidny i was goin to hoperate agin close to you ospitle just as i was going to dror mi nife along of er bloomin throte them cusses of coppers spoilt the game but i guess i wil be on the jobn soon and will send you another bit of innerds


Jack the Ripper


O have you seen the devle with his mikerscope and scalpul a-lookin at a kidney with a slide cocked up.**

Last edited by Aldebaran : 06-16-2016 at 07:53 AM.
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