Man Known As 'Kai, The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker' Charged With Murder

CLARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A man known on YouTube as “Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” was arrested and charged with murder in the beating death of a Union County lawyer, authorities announced Thursday evening.

Kai, whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, 24, was wanted for murdering 73-year-old Joseph Galfy. Galfy’s body was found Monday afternoon inside his home on Starlite Drive in Clark.

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On Tuesday, the Union County medical examiner determined Galfy died as a result of blunt force trauma, authorities said.

McGillvary was arrested at the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Philadelphia by members of the Philadelphia Police Department at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced.

According to authorities, McGillvary will be processed in Philadelphia and returned to New Jersey in the coming days. His bail was previously set at $3 million and he will be lodged in the Union County Jail in Elizabeth, Romankow said.

“I am grateful for the overwhelming response and dedicated effort by the public and law enforcement that led to this arrest,” Romankow said. “I believe that everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets.”

Earlier Thursday, authorities had asked for the public’s help in tracking down their man.

“He is dangerous,” Romankow told reporters including WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

McGillvary became a YouTube sensation after he stopped a suspect who allegedly attacked a utility worker in Fresno, Calif., back in February.

At the time, he said he was a passenger in the suspect’s car when the suspect plowed the car into a utility truck, pinning the worker between the car and the truck, CBS San Francisco reported.

When the suspect became violent with a bystander, “Kai” pulled a hatchet from his backpack and struck the suspect in the head.

Caleb Lawrence McGillvary (credit: Handout via Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

Caleb Lawrence McGillvary (credit: Handout via Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

“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,” he said.

His expletive-laden interview following the incident went viral online after it was posted on YouTube. He even made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

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Police believe McGillvary met Galfy in Times Square over the weekend and went back with him to Galfy’s home in Clark, authorities said. Police said Galfy was killed on Sunday.

Authorities said the men went back to Galfy’s house for a sexual encounter, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

“He was found the next morning, Monday morning, in his bedroom partially clothed. He had his underwear on. He had his socks on. He was beaten severely,” Romankow said.

Family and friends gathered for Galfy’s wake on Thursday.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Romankow said that right after the murder, the Internet star reached out to a fan and made strange comments on his Facebook page.

It read in part: “what would you do if you woke up with a groggy head….. in a strangers house…, realizing that someone had drugged, raped…. you? what would you do? [sic]”

McGillvary had been seen earlier Thursday at a light rail station in Haddonfield and was thought to be headed to Georgia, authorities said. They said he relies on the generosity of strangers for food, lodging and transportation.

Joseph Galfy (credit: Facebook)

Joseph Galfy (credit: Facebook)

A murder warrant was issued for McGillvary, who also goes by the name Kai Lawrence, Caleb Kai Lawrence and Kai Nicodemus, authorities said. He had cut his hair to change his appearance and has a tattoo on his face.

“He is considered armed and dangerous. As we’ve learned, he has, in the past, had ability to use the back end of hatchet,” Romankow said earlier Thursday.

The Union County Homicide Task Force worked with local, state and federal officials to locate McGillvary.

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