Has London's Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper finally been identified?

Dr Jari Louhelainen, senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, tests a shawl that was found at the murder scene of Jack the Ripper's fourth victim Catherine Eddowes on September 30, 1888 (AFP Photo/)

LONDON (Reuters) - Jack the Ripper, a serial killer who terrorized London in the 1880s, has finally been identified from DNA evidence from the blood-soaked shawl of one of his victims, according to a new book.

Author Russell Edwards identifies 23-year-old Polish immigrant and hairdresser Adam Kosminski as the notorious killer, suspected of the gruesome murders of at least five women in 1888.

In his book "Naming Jack the Ripper" which is released on Tuesday, Edwards, a businessman from North London, linked Kosminski to the crimes via DNA found on a shawl taken by a policeman from the murder scene of the Ripper’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes.

The shawl, which had never been washed and was kept safe by descendants of the policeman, was bought by Edwards at an auction in 2007.

With the help of genealogists who traced descendants of both Eddowes and Kosminski and helped by modern DNA technology, Edwards said he was able to confirm the authenticity of the shawl and attribute the murders to Kosminski.

The Ripper gained infamy with a killing spree in London’s East End in the late 19th century, targeting female prostitutes around the then-impoverished Whitechapel district.

According to the new book, Kosminski, who emigrated with his family from Poland to the End of London before the murders, was known to the police as a credible suspect.

He was committed to an asylum in 1891 and later died from gangrene.

Edwards' theory is the latest attempt to track down the killer whose story has spawned numerous books and films and who continues to fascinate to this day.

In 2002, best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell thought she might have uncovered Jack the Ripper's DNA and that it could be a match for British artist Walter Sickert who liked to paint morbid scenes of violence against women.

(Reporting by Hannah Murphy; Editing by Janet Lawrence)