New project to identify Jack the Ripper’s last known victim
Members of the team who undertook genealogical and demographic research in relation to the discovery of the mortal remains of King Richard III have now been involved in a new project to identify the last known victim of Jack the Ripper – Mary Jane Kelly.
The researchers were commissioned by author Patricia Cornwell, renowned for her meticulous research, to examine the feasibility of finding the exact burial location and the likely condition and survival of her remains. This was done as a precursor to possible DNA analysis in a case surrounding her true identity following contact with surgeon and author Wynne Weston-Davies who believes that Mary Jane Kelly was actually his great aunt, Elizabeth Weston Davies.
Now, in a new report, ‘The Mary Jane Kelly Project’, the research team has revealed the likelihood of locating and identifying the last known victim of Britain’s most infamous serial killer known as ‘Jack the Ripper’, who is thought to have killed at least five young women in the Whitechapel area of London between August and November 1888.
The team conducted a desk-based assessment of the burial location of Mary Jane Kelly and visited St Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery, Leytonstone, on 3 May 2016 in order to examine the burial area. Research was carried out in the cemetery’s burial records and a survey of marked graves in the area around Kelly’s modern grave marker was undertaken.
Dr King concluded: “As information presently stands, a successful search for Kelly’s remains would require a herculean effort that would likely take years of research, would be prohibitively costly and would cause unwarranted disturbance to an unknown number of individuals buried in a cemetery that is still in daily use, with no guarantee of success.
“As such it is extremely unlikely that any application for an exhumation licence would be granted. The simple fact is, successfully naming someone in the historical record only happens in the most exceptional of cases.
“Most human remains found during excavations remain stubbornly, and forever, anonymous and this must also be the fate of Mary Jane Kelly.”
Watch a video about the project below:
Watch an interview with best-selling author Patricia Cornwell talking about the possibility of exhuming and examining the remains of Mary Jane Kelly.