It appears as if a new brand of lunatic has emerged from the blistering heat of an excruciating Midwest summer.

A serial hugger has been caught in Missouri, and now prosecutors cannot seem to decide whether they can actually charge him with a crime.

That’s right — we said serial hugger, and to date at least 36 women have come forward to file complaints against this menace to affection.

Although police have not released the name of the man, folks in the St. Louis media have been doing just fine coming up with names of their own, giving the man nicknames like ‘Jack the Gripper’ and ‘John Wayne Embracey’.

According to Des Peres Detective Marshall Broughton, the alleged hugger typically approaches women while they are shopping by themselves, pretends to know them as a former neighbor, and then asks for a hug under the pretense that it is his birthday.

“He’d say, ‘Hi, remember me? I lived down the street in the corner house. How ya been?’” Broughton said. “Obviously [the women] didn’t remember him, but he did it so quickly and convincingly that they felt embarrassed that they didn’t know him.”

While police have positively identified the man, who is 44, they have not formally arrested him because they are unsure whether his affectionate exploits constitutes criminal activity. He was taken into custody, but released after an hour.

The alleged hugger was called into the Des Peres police department for questioning on June 20. He appeared with his attorney but made no statements regarding the allegations. After nearly an hour of interrogation, he was turned loose.

Prosecutors say that although the man’s actions may have not violated the law, assault charges may be able to be established under certain municipal ordinances.

If charges are pursued, his identity will become public, and a warrant will be issued for his arrest.


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