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Tragic story of what happened to the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker

Daisy Phillipson

Published 
| Last updated 

Tragic story of what happened to the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Most of you will know Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker from his viral 2013 interview in which he described using a hatchet to save a woman from an attacker.

Although it appeared to be a simple case of good vs evil, there is far more to this story than meets the eye, as explored in a new Netflix documentary on the bloke at the centre of all this.

The homeless nomad, real name Caleb McGillvary, initially rose to online fame after claiming to have saved a woman from a violent attacker, who he had been picked up by while hitchhiking.

Immediately after the incident, Kai would only speak with one reporter from local Fox affiliate KMPH in Fresno, California, and his interview quickly earned millions of views.

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He came across as a loveable surfer, starting off by telling viewers: "No matter what you've done, you deserve respect. Even if you've made mistakes, you're loveable."

Kai then goes into descriptive detail about the attack, saying he was initially picked up by Jett Simmons McBride, someone he describes as being 300 pounds and claimed to be Jesus Christ.

When McBride crashed his car and lunged at a bystander who came over to help, that's when Kai says he stepped in with his hatchet to stop the driver from hurting the woman.

He described using the weapon with the words 'smash, smash, s-mash', a moment in the clip that went on to become the subject of countless memes.

Kai quickly rose to viral fame after his interview. Credit: KMPH
Kai quickly rose to viral fame after his interview. Credit: KMPH

As described in the documentary, people quickly fell in love with Kai and soon everyone wanted a piece of him - including the production company behind The Kardashians.

But when producers finally managed to nail the free spirit down, he didn't quite live up to their expectations.

According to their accounts, when they took him to the Roosevelt Hotel, he managed to urinate on a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, get booted out of the bar for skateboarding and necked a bottle of Jack Daniels as soon as he got into his room.

He also pulled a knife out on them.

Over the following months, Kai's erratic behaviour became of concern to those around him, especially when it came to violence.

One of his cousins who spoke in the documentary said he would have angry, violent outbursts, while his mother said she would have to lock him in a room as a child as he was a danger to himself.

Initially, Kai was set for a rags-to-riches story, but this didn't play out as people had planned and in May 2013 he was arrested for the murder of 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy Jr.

McGillvary had met Galfy in Times Square, New York, before returning with him to his home in New Jersey.

Kai was arrested for murder in 2013. Credit: Police Handout
Kai was arrested for murder in 2013. Credit: Police Handout

Two days later, the attorney was found beaten to death in his bedroom, wearing only underwear and socks.

"This was a brutal, vicious, senseless crime, and we are pleased that the interests of justice have been served," prosecutor Monahan said in a news release from the Union County Prosecutor's Office.

Although the hitchhiker initially claimed he was the victim of sexual assault, his story didn't add up and ultimately he was found guilty of the charge and is now serving a 57-year prison sentence.

At the end of the documentary, friends of Galfy speculated as to whether the media created a celebrity in Kai 'without doing their homework'.

Topics: True Crime, Netflix

Daisy Phillipson
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