A victim of Jack the Ripper is discovered in Whitechapel
A victim of Jack the Ripper is discovered in Whitechapel Wikicommons

A new suspect in the case of infamous serial killer "Jack the Ripper" has emerged.

Dr Wynne Weston-Davies, who is about to be granted an exhumation order by the Ministry of Justice, believes one of the victims was his great-aunt and that she was murdered, along with the other victims, by her husband, Francis Spurzheim Craig.

In all, the Ripper killed five women in the East End of London between August and November 1888, savagely mutilating their bodies.

Weston-Davies's book, The Real Mary Kelly, alleges that the Ripper's final victim, Mary Jane Kelly, was in reality his great-aunt Elizabeth Weston-Davies. He plans to exhume her remains and hopes DNA evidence will prove the family connection.

Weston-Davies believes that Elizabeth's husband murdered her when he discovered that she had resumed her former life as a prostitute after marrying him. Weston-Davies believes that Craig murdered the other four victims beforehand to make linking him to Kelly more more difficult. Weston-Davies further asserts that Craig heavily mutilated Kelly's face -- in similar savage fashion to mutilation of the other victims -- so that her relations could not identify her from newspaper and police reports, and potentially trace the killing to him.

But there are problems with Weston-Davies's theory.

First, while DNA analysis might prove Mary Jane Kelly was his great-aunt, it does not follow that her husband was the Ripper. If traces of Craig's DNA, in turn, cannot be identified on the other victims' possessions and remains, then Weston-Davies's theory is probably unprovable.

Second, why would Craig kill four other women before Kelly? Mutilating her face should have been sufficient to prevent its image entering the public domain. Also, men who murder their wives rarely murder other women. Weston-Davies proposes that Craig was insane -- but that is more or less a starting point for trying to unmask the Ripper, in any case.

A plausible sounding competing recent theory was that the Ripper was a Polish madman, Aaron Kosminski.

Kosminski was committed to an asylum during the killings and was a suspect at the time. Last year a Finnish expert claimed the DNA from the shawl of victim Catherine Eddowes matched that of Kosminski's descendants.

Over the years other suspects named included the Queen's surgeon Sir William Gull and the artist Walter Sickert.