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Analytical Essay on Serial Killers: Jack the Ripper, The Cleveland Torso Murderer

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Jack the Ripper:


For three months in 1888, fear and terror stalked the streets of Whitechapel, London. During these months, five women (some ought to believe more) were murdered and horribly mutilated by the man who was known as ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Main Body:

One of many forensic advances that would aid in solving this case would have been the possibility of CCTV cameras. Jack the Ripper is an infamous unknown serial killer; thus, CCTV’s could help identify him or the type of individual to look for; tall? short? Big? Dark hair? etc, as well as, finding out whether there were more than five victims involved. (, 2019)

Another unusual aspect occurred during the Eddowes case (victim 4), a message was left written in chalk located on the wall of a busy marketplace beside her piece of apron that was left abandoned. “The Juwes [sic] are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.” (, 2019) The meaning of what was written is open for debate and interpretation as to what it could mean. However, it reiterated the anti-Semitism that was causing a division between the community due to the murders. One of the many things that should have been conducted was forensic photography as it would today, due to this technique already existed and was used to take photos of the victims, however not completed correctly. Instead they wrote down what was written and proceeded to move along. This caused heavy criticism towards the police when decided to eradicate the message, which was conducted because of the fear and anxiety they had knowing it would cause a riot against the Jewish community. (, 2019)

The forensic advancements used today would include in forensic handwriting analysis. Through identifying small differences between a writing sample where the writer is known and another sample of where the writer is unknown, examples of these differences could be shaky lines, dark and thick starts and finishes for words, pen lifts, grammar, spacing of letter, phrasing and the English language used. For example, if there are a lot of grammatical errors etc, it may be due to the graffiti not coming from a native English speaker, helping to narrow down who the suspect could be. (Crime Museum, 2019) Another advancement that could be used today includes Fingerprinting. It has remained unknown whether the person who wrote the message on wall used gloves or any protection. Thus, there could potentially be finger marks (unintentional, often latent) or prints (left on purpose) around the crime scene area, linking us towards the killer if a match has been found. Depending on the type of wall (porous or non-porous) different techniques would be used, for example, aluminium (smooth), black (smooth – light coloured), magnetic (rough) or fluorescent (multi coloured surfaces) powders. (Hazarika and Russell, 2012)

During the years of 1888 many advances in the forensics world were not established, for example, the testing of mitochondrial DNA. Linking this to the case of the nameless and faceless serial killer. This would depend on whether Jack the Ripper was smart enough to use any type of protective clothing (gloves, masks, hair and shoe cover etc.). This would be highly critical as it would be difficult to obtain any biological evidence within the crime scene. When looking at the description of the crime scene, all the victims had been gutted and internal body parts had been laid out in front of them. Of course, this would cause a trail of blood, and so believing that no trace of the killer would be found is highly unreasonable; “Every touch leaves a trace” – Locard’s exchange principle. (Crime Museum, 2019) (Wilding, 2019)

DNA would help identify and analyse biological samples to form a DNA profile as to whom was involved. this could be through blood, semen, spit or any type of biological material that contains DNA. This process would be conducted through DNA analysts that conduct their work in forensic crime labs to examine samples of DNA to detect any potential suspects. After conducting tests on each of the sample, analysts would usually compare the identity of the unknown sample to other known samples. If there is a match, law enforcements will be provided with positive identification.


To deduce this case, if forensic advancements; DNA, handwriting analysis, fingerprinting, CCTV, were available within the years this crime took place, there is a higher chance that the unknown suspect would have been captured.

The Cleveland Torso Murderer:


The Cleveland Torso Murderer has still remained as an unidentified serial killer. These murderers took place in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1930’s. The serial killer was characterised for the dismembered bodies of twelve victims. Some ought to believe that more than one person was involved with the killings.

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Main Body:

Although the victims were identified by their gender, forensic anthropology could be used as a forensic advancement. Forensic anthropology is a special sub-field of physical anthropology (the study of human remains), which involves applying skeletal analysis and techniques in archaeology to solving criminal cases. Forensic Anthropologists specify in exploring and evaluating in hard tissues, such as, bones, which can possibly aid a case by assisting law enforcements with the site and recovery of human remains at crime scenes. They also clean the bones so that they are able to be examined, analyse skeletal remains to determine the biological profile of the individual, and confirm if the skeletal remains interrupt trauma to determine the type and level of injuries. (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History | Case Western Reserve University, 2019)

When discussing the year these killings were conducted. It is visible that some forensic advancements were not introduced at that time period. Thus, serial killers wouldn’t be as educated within the forensics field, including the type of protective clothing that should be worn to help to avoid getting caught. For example, currently DNA technology has advanced hugely and can easily be traced back to the killer in question with just a drop of blood instead of a pint, especially since they didn’t have the techniques and knowledge of forensics as much as today’s society. (Cleveland Police Museum, 2019)

An example of advanced technology that could be used towards the Cleveland Torso Killer would be; NGS (Next Generation Sequencing). When researching The Cleveland Torso serial killer, it has been made evident that as the victims increase, the more adventurous the bodies were found, for example Victim five was found outside a police officer building near railway tracks (missing head). Thus, obtaining the idea that he may have been more reckless with how careful he is with not leaving any types of evidence/trace. This forensic advancement has transformed biological sciences. Due to its speed, ultra-high throughput and scalability, NGS allows scientists and researchers to perform and study a large variety of biological systems at a level never possible. The idea behind NGS is fairly similar to sanger sequencing (DNA is copied many times, making fragments of different lengths), which depends on capillary electrophoresis. The genomic strand is fragmented, and the bases in each fragment are discovered through emitted signals when the fragments are ligated against a template strand. These testings will allow forensic scientists to sequence Short Tandem Repeat markers, causing an increase in the ability to distinguish individuals in complex mixtures, for example if and when cross contamination occurs. Alternative markers, such as Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs) can me more easily incorporated into casework laboratories, causing new resources, for example, ancestry or phenotype predicting in unresolved cases. (van der Gaag and de Knijff, 2015) (Dr. Ananya Mandal, 2019)

This leads to the next advancement. Referring to Locard’s Principle “Every touch leaves a trace”. When obtaining information throughout the whole case, not many types of techniques were used. For example, Forensic Footwear Analysis. When the killer disposed of the bodies, there must have been some sort of footwear. Especially in wood, forest, or lake like areas, it is bound to detect some imprint due to the weather and humidity. For example, the first victim was found within the September month; a typical wet and cold season.

The analysis of footwear can position a person at a crime scene. This is either done through thread marks left in a footprint at the scene, or through trace evidence that may have been apprehended in the thread of the shoes. One important section when investigating a footwear analysis is that shoe soles suggests a person’s individual distinctive walking style. An example, feet that roll inwards or high arches will have a particular wearing pattern on the soles of the shoes. When examining cases that involves assault, for example, a victim that has been kicked and stamped by a suspect, forensic footwear experts can identify the impressions on the victim’s body, giving a clue as to the type of shoe, force and possible size involved. (Rannik et al., 2000) The Cleveland Torso serial killer was never found, however, using footwear analysis could help build a profile of the suspects at the crime scene through scientists identifying an estimated height and the activity the person was conducting when the shoe print was made. Researchers have proved that footprint may be used to estimate stature, body weight and sex to solve the crime. (Bull, Parker and Morgan, 2006)

April 1938, an unidentified young female was pulled out of the river and the use of drugs were detected for the first time. Using forensic anthropology today could help identify the young female. This would lead to investigating the personal background of the female to debunk whether she previously used drugs rarely or regularly. This leaves the question whether she was a drug addict or if the killer did this for a specific reason. The drugs used were never identified so in today’s advancements. (Gookin, Pogue and Rathbone, 2019) Once drugs are distinguished through screening, such as spot test kits (marquis or immunoassays), samples are then composed and sent to laboratories for confirmation tests. This confirmation entails high selectivity and sensitivity towards drugs, including their metabolites. It is usually carried out through Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (GC/MS). (, 2019) Targeted drug compounds within a sample are recognised through their retention times when samples pass through chromatography columns. When GC and MS are combined together, it makes a powerful technique due to the structures of the unknown compound that can be identified after GC has separated them. Other analytical instruments can be found in forensic laboratories as complementary techniques, for example, UV/Vis, FTIR or HPLC. (Kaempe, 1984)

When the type of drug is recognised, investigating where the drug can typically be found and bought from could help identify the type of suspect due to how rare people find use it. This could be either a hit or miss. However, this would lead to eyewitness testimony, which refers to an explanation by people of an event that has taken place which they saw. This involves in the description of the suspect, details of what occurred and any type of information that occurred that day. Usually when the individual is describing what happened, it must be said from A to Z and from Z to A to ensure accuracy, however the memory can be remarkably accurate or inaccurate. There have been various changes within forensic toxicology over the last 15 years. One significant recognition would be the need for good laboratory practises in forensic toxicology laboratory. This has followed the advancement of a certification programme for laboratories. With newer techniques introduced, it allows forensic toxicologists to analyse and investigate large quantities of drugs with increased sensitivity. (MA, 2019)


Overall, naturally there are many more advancements that could be included with this case to help identify the suspect. However, this is what was found that could assist the incident; DNA, forensic anthropology and footprint/mark analysis.


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