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Case closed? Yeah right...

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by limeygit, Dec 8, 2002.

  1. limeygit

    limeygit Assume Sarcasm...

    Isn't really anywhere this would fit perfectly, but this is as good a spot as any.

    A good few months ago I remember seeing 'esteemed' mystery writer Patricia Cornwell preening herself on ABC's 20/20 claiming she had solved the Jack the Ripper mystery, after 100+ years, using modern DNA technology, and over $6 million of her own money. Now the book has been released, and I am sure will sell millions of copies.
    Now I was interested, I don't claim to be an expert on the case, but I have studied it several times and find it fascinating. I watched with a growing sense of horror at the sheer brazeness of the woman, and she claimed to have proven her case when she hadn't done anything of the sort. In fact, all she had done is find herself a nice semi-famous figure of the time, and done her damnest to lay the blame on him. This has been a popular approach since the time of the crime.
    At first a popular suspect was Prince Albert, who better to be the killer than the crazy son of Queen Victoria. His not being present anywhere near the crime scene caused that one issues, so we got several variations, including the Royal Doctor, before it was all hashed together as yet another Masons conspiracy, known as 'The Royal Conspiracy'. None of this had anything to do with facts, and everything to do with selling a good story.
    Interestingly, Cornwell's Ripper, a painter called Walter Sickert, takes a minor role in several variations of 'The Royal Conspiracy', so it is not hard to see where she got her inspiration.
    Anyway, Cornwell, names her book 'Case Closed', and claims to have proven 99% that Sickert is the Ripper. For anyone who may care, lets see how she has proven this.
    Using modern DNA technology she examined letters from the era, that Scotland Yard kept. First issue is that obviously letters that have been handled for a 100 years by dozens of people, with no regard to contamination, would get laughed out of any court in the free world. Still let us put this to one side.
    Here is the important part. There are 600 letters, no one believes they are all from the Ripper, in fact it was almost a pastime during that era to write these letters, two people, both women, were even charged with it as a crime. In fact, most true students of these crimes believe that probably only one of these letters has a 50/50 chance of being real, and that records of this time indicate the police pretty much knew that the original letters, which started the hysteria, and coined the term Jack the Ripper, were written by a journalist to sell papers. The one that may be real is the one that contained half a kidney. They were never able to actually match the kidney though, but of all the letters it is the one that has the best odds of being real.
    Cornwell's case is based on matching a special type of DNA test, to a letter. Not the kidney letter, which they tried and failed to link in any shape and form, but another letter from among the 600, which no expert has ever considered genuine. In other words, a letter that is universally considered a hoax.
    So, she has managed to link Walter Sickett to a hox letter? Well not even that, the DNA test she used only matches sequences which are shared by many other people, she claims just 1% (where she gets her 99% sure from :rolleyes: ) other experts have said it could easily be 10%, which means she has matched between 400,000 and 4 million of the UK population of the time to a hoax letter.
    She throws in some other 'evidence', the use of the word Nero as a signature in the letter linked, and the fact Sickert used Nemo as a stage name in his earlier career as an actor. Nemo is roughly translated from Latin as 'No one', and it was commonly used at the time as an alternative way of signing 'anonymous'.
    She also claims to see murder in his pictures, in particular a pearl necklace is supposed to represent a cut throat. Really at this stage she is beyond pitiful.
    I doubt many will care, but I just felt compelled to rant. I have seen more convincing exposes in supermarket tabloids. Her 'star' status, as a popular writer, will I am sure sell millions of copies.
    Sigh...
     
  2. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Great post Limeygit, I might have purchased the book without this warning.
     
  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Wow, I wasn't even aware to any of this. Thanks much Limy, great topic and great explanation.
     
  4. limeygit

    limeygit Assume Sarcasm...

    It just annoyed me that she is really promoting this as
    (a) The definitive answer.
    (b) Modern Science solving old murders.

    There have been some very good articles written by supporters of Sickert (a biographer and a museum curator in particular) that have torn apart her theory from a different angle. For instance correspondence from France suggests strongly he was happily painting in France at the time of several of the murders.
    Also she claims that one of his paintings shows the exact positioning of one of his victims, as proven by photographs from the Scotland Yard vaults. Photos which would not have been public knowledge at the time.
    These photos are from the morgue, after the body had been removed from the place of the murder, carried over cobbled streets by horse and cart, and then re-arranged in a mortuary.
    The murderer would have had no more idea of the positioning of the body at the morgue than anyone else.
    Really, I don't mean to rant, but it is pitiful. I could have done a better investigation with $60, in fact I think I may decide that Shiny was the Killer (he is old enough), and work from there...
     
  5. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Cornwell is a mystery writer, so perhaps only her fans took her seriously? I never read any of her books but aware she is a popular writer.
     
  6. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    But Limey, you do not want to push this any further, I may be old but my talent remains. MUhahahahaha
     

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