Viral video star charged in killing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The hatchet-wielding drifter who made headlines earlier this year when he saved a woman in California from an attacker is now facing a murder charge.
The man known as "Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker," whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillivary, was named a suspect this week in the murder of a New Jersey lawyer.
Union County, N.J., authorities issued a warrant for his arrest charging him with murder, according to a release issued by the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
He was arrested about 6:30 p.m. Thursday at a Greyhound Bus terminal in Philadelphia, according to the prosecutor's office. He will be processed in Philadelphia and returned to New Jersey at a later date.
"I am grateful for the overwhelming response and dedicated effort by the public and law enforcement that led to this arrest," Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said in a release. "I believe that everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets."
The 24-year-old man considers himself "homefree" rather than homeless. He gave interviews to TV reporters after the incident in California and claimed to be from the Raleigh County community of Sophia, the hometown of the late Sen. Robert Byrd.
McGillivary has said in at least one television interview that he actually hails from western Canada, not West Virginia.
Police found the body of Joseph Galfry Jr., 73, inside his Clark area home Monday. An autopsy performed Tuesday showed the cause of death was blunt force trauma, Romankow said in the release.
They named McGillivary, who is also known as Kai Lawrence, Caleb Kai Lawrence and Kai Nicodemus, as a suspect.
"The suspect is an Internet celebrity and is well know(n) on Facebook and YouTube as 'Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,' " the release said. "Authorities believe that McGillivary relies on the generosity of strangers for food, lodging and transportation."
McGillivary has been active on Facebook since the murder. Last Friday, he posted a thank you to those who "invited me in, partied hardy with me and brought me into such cool places to meet such cool people."
"ive met some of the greatest people in my life in these last three months and i wouldn't trade these experiences with you for all the money in Hollywood," he wrote.
The next post, which was too graphic to print in its entirety, seems to indicate that McGillivary was raped.
"what would you do if you woke up with a groggy head, metallic taste in your mouth, in a strangers house," he wrote Tuesday. "walked to the mirror . . . and started wretching, realizing that someone had drugged, raped . . . you? what would you do?"
The prosecuting attorney's office said McGillivary cut his hair in an attempt to alter his appearance. He was last seen before his arrest at a light rail station in Haddonfield, N.J.
McGillivary came into the limelight in February after an animated interview with a television news reporter went viral. He was being interviewed because he had stopped an attack at a Fresno, Calif., worksite.
McGillivary claimed he caught a ride through Fresno with a man who was making racist remarks and rammed his truck into Rayshawn Neely at a Pacific Gas and Electric worksite, pinning him between his truck and another vehicle.
McGillivary told reporters he took the keys out of the truck, fearing that if the truck moved, the man would bleed out.
He said the man, whom authorities later identified as Jett McBride, got out of the truck and grabbed one of two women who were trying to help the victim. McBride, according to California authorities, is 6-foot-4 and about 290 pounds.
"A guy that big can snap a woman's neck like a pencil stick," McGillivary said in the interview. "I (expletive) ran up behind him with a hatchet. Smash! Smash! Smash! Yeah!"
Both Neely and McBride survived the incident. McBride was arrested and charged with attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Witnesses told police that McBride asked Neely about Jesus Christ and then told him he was there to take him home, according to the California newspaper.
Union County Crime Stoppers offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to McGillivary's arrest.
A New Jersey Superior Court judge set his bail at $3 million before he was arrested.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.