Jack the Gripper, or, alternatively, John Wayne Embracey, has been tricking women into giving him hugs by catching them off-guard in public places. For example, by pretending to be a long-lost neighbor, ol’ Jack gains his victim’s confidence before boldly proclaiming that it’s his birthday. Perhaps out of fear of being rude to someone she doesn’t remember, the victim relents, giving this stranger the embrace he so desperately desires.
Presently, 36 women have come forward, all of whom claim they have fallen prey to the Gripper’s peculiar antics. One woman said that he went as far as to give her a kiss on the lips during the hug. In addition to the neighbor angle, the guy has been known to take advantage of name tags, often referring to someone by a popular nickname in order to sell his story.
Police are having a hard time pinning charges on Embracey. He was once arrested in a St. Louis suburb for probable cause, though he was released from custody after an hour. Missouri prosecutors are reportedly working on a case against the man, whose real name is currently being withheld by police. The problem, apparently, is that the serial hugger isn’t violating any state laws, though his actions are considered assault under municipal ordinances.
As soon as police figure out what to do with this guy, they will issue a warrant for his arrest and release his name to the public. In the meantime, here’s a good piece of advice: If someone weirdo walks up to you and asks for a hug, don’t give him one. Just don’t do it. Telling people to screw off isn’t necessarily a bad thing all the time.