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31 August 2011

University expert asks, 'is this the face of Jack the Ripper?'

A University of Dundee forensic anthropologist will tomorrow night help shed new light on the world's most famous cold case when she appears on the hit BBC One show 'National Treasures Live'.

Dr Xanthe Mallett from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification will interview Trevor Marriott, an ex-murder squad detective and one of the world’s foremost Jack the Ripper experts, about the man he believes most likely to have carried out the brutal killing of five women in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888.

Marriott believes Carl Feigenbaum, a German merchant who was shown to be visiting London at the time of each murder, is the top suspect. No photographs of Feigenbaum exist, but Dr Mallett will be examining an e-fit produced by Trevor Marriott based on the description of him when he was sent to prison in the US. She will also be exploring the evidence that either supports and rebuffs the theory.

'As a forensic anthropologist, it was a privilege to trawl through the treasure trove of surviving documents from the original police investigation,' she said. 'It was fascinating to explore these and review this case, although it did leave me wondering why, after more than 120 years, we still crave to know who Jack was.

'The crimes may have taken place more than 120 years ago, and the review may have shed new light on them, but this case is certainly not solved. I look forward to learning about the new twists and turns as this dark tale has many more secrets to give up before we know, for sure, the name of the man we call Jack the Ripper and whether this new e-fit is the closest thing we have to a definitive image of him.'

Dr Mallett and her colleagues in CAHID are no strangers to the small screen, having starred in the BBC Two series 'History Cold Case', which saw them use sophisticated forensic techniques and historical evidence to analyse skeletons from across the ages in staggering detail, opening new windows on the history of our forebears.

The e-fit of Carl Feigenbaum will be revealed on National Treasures Live, which will be shown on BBC One at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 31st August.

Notes to editors:

The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee is an internationally leading centre in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, cranio-facial reconstruction and the study of the human body.

Professor Sue Black, Director of the Centre, is currently spearheading a major fundraising campaign - 'Million For A Morgue' - to build a new morgue at the University to allow researchers to adopt the Thiel method of embalming.

This gives surgeons, dentists, students and medical researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches. For more information see

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Grant Hill
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University of Dundee
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