Johnny Depp's 'From Hell' Inspired New Revelations of Jack the Ripper's Identity

BBC America
'Ripper Street'

A new book names a Polish immigrant as the infamous 19th-century London murderer

The author of a new book that purports to have finally pinpointed the true identity of one of history's most famed unknown murderers was in part inspired by the Johnny Depp-starring thriller From Hell.

Naming Jack the Ripper, published this week, claims that 23-year-old Polish immigrant and hairdresser Aaron Kosminski was the man behind a string of bloody murders that terrorized London in 1888, sparking more than a century of references in popular culture.

The book's author, Russell Edwards, used DNA evidence found at one of the crime scenes to make the claims but says it was the Hughes brothers' 2001 film From Hell that sparked his curiosity.

"When my involvement in the 126-year-old case began, I was just another armchair detective, interested enough to conduct my own extensive research after watching the Johnny Depp film From Hell," Edwards told U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail. "It piqued my curiosity about the 1888 killings when five — possibly more — prostitutes were butchered in London's East End."

Jack the Ripper has been featured in countless films, most notably Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 book adaptation The Lodger; 1979's Murder By Decree, which had Sherlock Holmes on the murderer's case; and 1971 Hammer horror film Hands of the Ripper. The figure has also appeared in TV shows, including Doctor Who, Star Trek and Babylon 5. Ripper Street, which was recently canceled by the BBC after a second season but picked up by Amazon Prime for a third, is set in London six months after the infamous murders.