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Headless remains of Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly ID'd

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Headless remains of Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly ID'd

Scientists use DNA to identify body 130 years after hanging

  • A plaster-cast death mask of the outlaw Ned Kelly is on display at the National Museum in Canberra, Australia.
    paddynapper/FlickrA plaster-cast death mask of the outlaw Ned Kelly is on display at the National Museum in Canberra, Australia.

The headless remains of Australian criminal Ned Kelly were identified 130 years after he was hanged for murder.

Kelly was a controversial character, known as a ruthless criminal by some and an Irish-Australian resistance fighter by others, BBC reports.

He was hanged in 1880 at Old Melbourne Gaol after killing three police officers in Australia. His body was thrown into a mass grave and then transferred to another mass grave. It was exhumed in 2009.

Scientists with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine said they recently identified Kelly's remains using DNA. They took a sample from the great-grandchild of his sister, Leigh Olver, and then found his body buried among dozens of other prisoners.

"Leigh Olver's mitochondrial DNA is the same as Ned Kelly's,'' said the institute's director, Stephen Cordner, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The discovery was called "amazing."

"To think a group of scientists could identify the body of a man who was executed more than 130 years ago, moved and buried in a haphazard fashion among 33 other prisoners, most of whom are not identified, is amazing," Attorney General Robert Clark reportedly said.

In the course of their two-year research, the scientists also discovered that the head of Kelly that had been on display at the Old Melbourne Gaol was not actually his head. Instead, it possibly belonged to another prisoner, Frederick Deeming, allegedly Jack the Ripper, Melbourne's Age reports. 

Both men's bodies were transferred from Old Melbourne Gaol to Pentridge Prison in 1929. Their remains were taken to the research institute 80 years later.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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australia, dna, execution, jack the ripper,

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