Starbucks Run Leads To Arrest Of YouTube Sensation Charged In NJ Murder
ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Life on the run for the YouTube sensation known as “Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker,” who was wanted in the fatal beating of a 73-year-old lawyer, ended when he ordered a cup of coffee.
Authorities are crediting an employee at a Starbucks in Philadelphia with recognizing 24-year-old Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, who was arrested Thursday at the Greyhound Bus Terminal nearby.
“She knew that he was wanted, she saw it on her phone,” Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said Friday.
“He was pretty well known, his face, there was a lot of video,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.
He has been charged with murdering Joseph Galfy, whose body was found Monday inside his Clark, New Jersey home, authorities said.
And on Friday evening, CBS 2 News learned that McGillvary was being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after authorities determined he was in the U.S. illegally.
“I believe that everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets,” Romankow said Thursday. Galfy was found dead two days after authorities said he met McGillvary in Times Square, authorities said.
Galfy, who lived alone, was found by police who went to his home to check on his well-being, Romankow said.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Friday, evidence at Galfy’s home allegedly connected McGillvary to the crime.
“There was a film and pictures of him at the Rahway station with Mr. Galfy. There were text messages,” Romankow said.
“He was found Monday morning in his bedroom, partially clothed. He had his underwear on and his socks on,” Romankow said. “He was beaten severely.”
On Tuesday, the Union County medical examiner determined Galfy died as a result of blunt force trauma, authorities said.
Statements posted on McGillvary’s Facebook page following the homicide were “sexual in nature,” Romankow said.
McGillvary’s last post, dated Tuesday, asks “what would you do?” if you awoke in a stranger’s house and found you’d been drugged and sexually assaulted. One commenter suggests hitting him with a hatchet and McGillvary’s final comment on the post says, “I like your idea.”
Romankow added Friday that he’s not buying McGillvary’s defense, Champion reported.
“You would think that the person would contact the police, number one. Number two, would not cut his hair to change his identification and run,” Romankow said.
It was a hatchet that helped give McGillvary a brief taste of fame in February when he gave a rambling, profanity-laced 5-minute interview to a Fresno, Calif., television station about thwarting an unprovoked attack on a Pacific Gas & Electric employee.
McGillvary told KMPH, the Fox affiliate in Fresno, that he was traveling with a man, now facing charges including attempted murder, who veered into the worker. After the driver got out of the car, he walked up to the utility worker and allegedly said, “I am Jesus and I am here to take you home.”
When the suspect became violent with a bystander, McGillvary said he pulled a hatchet from his backpack and struck the suspect in the head, according to published reports.
“These two women are trying to help him and he runs up and he grabs one of them. Like a guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick. So, I ran up behind him with a hatchet, smash, smash, smash,” McGillvary told KMPH. “That woman was in danger. He just finished, what looked like at the time, killing somebody, and if he hadn’t done that he would have killed more people.”
The interview went viral, with one version viewed more than 3.9 million times on YouTube. McGillvary later traveled to Los Angeles to appear on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Kimmel asked him what people were saying to him since the Feb. 1 incident. “Hey, you’re Kai, that dude with the hatchet,” he responded.
Romankow declined to say what object was used in Galfy’s beating.
Romankow said McGillvary traded on his fledgling celebrity to meet fans across the country. Authorities know he was in Times Square based on witness accounts, the prosecutor said.
“He was well-known,” Romankow said. McGillvary spent at least two nights in Galfy’s home in Clark, Romankow said.
Authorities believe McGillvary took two trips to meet a fan in Asbury Park; Galfy picked him up after the first trip and brought him back to Clark, Romankow said.
It is unclear how McGillvary got to the train station a second time. After heading back to Asbury Park, McGillvary and the fan went to Philadelphia, then to Glassboro in southern New Jersey, where McGillvary spent Monday night.
Tuesday he boarded a train in New Jersey bound for Philadelphia, Romankow said.
On Thursday, McGillvary went into the Starbucks and the employee who waited on him recognized him and called 911. McGillvary took off before police arrived, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, and without his coffee. But an officer went to the nearby bus terminal and found McGillvary, who was arrested there.
In a Facebook post from May 10, written from a mobile phone, McGillvary thanked the people who “invited me in, partied hardy with me,” and kept him grounded even though he realized how “crazy fame can be in flippin ones life upside down.”
“ive met some of the greatest people in my life in these last three months,” he wrote, “and i wouldnt trade these experiences with you for all the money in hollywood.”
McGillvary was being held on $3 million bail and awaited extradition Friday on charges in Galfy’s killing.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
- Bill Would Apply Restaurant Letter Grading System To Street Food Vendors
- Monsey Park Closed Following Sunday Afternoon Bear Sighting
- Nepal Earthquake Death Toll Climbs Past 3,000
- Two Injured When SUV Crashes Into Store In Queens
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)