Remains of Jack the Ripper's last victim Mary Jane Kelly are 'unlikely to ever be found', experts warn

Francesca Gillett
An illustration showing the police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims: Getty Images

The remains of Jack the Ripper’s last known victim Mary Jane Kelly are likely to never be found, experts have said.

Researchers at the University of Leicester said locating the grave of the serial killer’s victim in Leytonstone, east London, would take too long and cost too much.

The team, who also identified the bones of King Richard III, were commissioned by crime writer Patricia Cornwell who has written two books on the infamous Jack the Ripper.

The London killer is thought to have murdered at least five women in the Whitechapel area between August and November 1888.

Miller's Court in Dorset Street, east London, where Mary Jane Kelly was murdered by serial killer Jack the Ripper on November 9, 1888. (Getty Images)

But after visiting St Patrick's Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone, where Ms Kelly is thought to have been buried, the scientists decided that searching for the murder victim's remains was simply impractical.

In a new report entitled the The Mary Jane Kelly Project they pointed out that it was likely to involve excavating an area containing hundreds of graves, and each exhumation would legally require the consent of next of kin.

Lead researcher geneticist Dr Turi King said: "To complete any exhumation application to the Ministry of Justice, a compelling case for the exhumation as well as detailed information on the location and state of the grave would be required, not only for the exhumation of Kelly's remains, but also to determine if any other remains might be disturbed in the process.

"However, the precise location of her grave is unknown and, not only that, it rapidly became clear that as such, the remains of a number of other individuals would have to be disturbed and that her remains are highly likely to have been dug through when the communal grave site she was buried in was reused in the 1940s, making accurate identification of any of her remains highly problematic if not impossible."

Finding her remains would make it possible to conduct DNA analysis to test the claim of surgeon and author Wynne Weston-Davies that the Ripper victim was his great aunt Elizabeth Weston Davies.

Additional reporting by Press Association.