Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker

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Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker is an internet viral video featuring a hitchhiking man identified as Caleb Lawrence 'Kai' McGillvary. It was released on February 2, 2013, by a reporter from a local news station in California. The video went viral and received national attention in the press.[1] Kai Lawrence, later identified as Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, would cite the fall-out from the video as part of his defense against a homicide charge that was filed in New Jersey a few months after the video was released. in 2019, McGillvary was found guilty of murdering a 73-year-old man and given a 57-year prison sentence.

Viral video[edit]

The video is by local Fox affiliate KMPH in Fresno, California. It is an eyewitness account by a man calling himself "Kai" who describes what happened (according to Kai) soon after the course of events and while still on the scene. Kai has been hitchhiking and is picked up by a man named Jett Simmons McBride[2] who weighs 300 pounds and claims to be Jesus Christ. The man tells Kai he once raped a 14-year-old girl in the Virgin Islands while on a business trip. The driver then crashes into a pedestrian, pinning him against a truck. Kai jumps out of the car to help the pinned pedestrian while the driver remains in the car. However, when a woman arrives on the scene to help, the driver jumps out and attacks her in a bear hug. Sensing the woman's life may be in danger, and believing the man could snap her neck "like a pencil stick", Kai removes a hatchet from his backpack and begins to repeatedly strike him in the back of the head. Kai describes the hatchet-wielding attack as a "Smash, Smash, SUH-MASH" while re-enacting the over-head swings. The attacker then staggers away and begins masturbating at a nearby school before the police arrive and take the man into custody. Kai is interrogated by police and set free.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on February 2, 2013, by Jessob Reisbeck who also conducted the interview for KMPH.[3] As of February 1, 2019, the video had over 7 million views. The Gregory Brothers sampled the interview and turned it into a song, as of February 1, 2019, it had over 10 million views.[4]

Murder charges[edit]

Kai was arrested on murder charges in May 2013 for the slaying of New Jersey attorney Joseph Galfy. Kai maintains he fought against Galfy in self-defense. According to Kai, Galfy attempted to rape him after offering Kai a place to stay for the night. Kai stated that the police claimed the sexual encounter was consensual and the murder premeditated; however, Kai said that after the viral video in California, he had no need to have sex with men like Galfy, who Kai described as unattractive, stating "Do you know how many hot chicks—never mind. Even if I was gay, do you know how many hot guys wanted to fuck me after that shit in California? I’m not even being vain. It’s just a fact, like—no offense, but he [Galfy] was not a looker".[5]

After the murder charges, the video views increased substantially adding to its viral impact.[6] Fans of the video, who considered Kai a hero for saving the woman, raised a legal fund.[7][8][9][10][11] Kai was imprisoned for over five years awaiting trial which began April 1, 2019.[12][13] Kai took the stand in his own defense and was combative during cross examination; he made an outburst during his defense lawyers closing arguments nearly leading to his expulsion from the court room.[14] A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to 57 years in prison. He will serve 85 percent of that term before the possibility of parole, with the judge telling McGillivary, "when you become eligible for parole, you will still be younger than Mr. Galfy was when you murdered him," who was 73 at the time.[15][16][17]


  1. ^ Thomas, Sophie Saint (May 16, 2013). "Catching Up with Kai, the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker". Vice News. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  2. ^ Campbell, Andy. "Jett Simmons McBride Claimed To Be Jesus, Attacked Driver, Thwarted By Hitchhiker With Hatchet: Cops". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  3. ^ Kai, Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, Amazing Interview w/ Jessob Reisbeck uploaded to YouTube on February 2, 2013, by Jessob Reisbeck YouTube
  4. ^ smash, Smash, SMASH! on YouTube
  5. ^ Kavanaugh, Shane Dixon (July 14, 2016). "The Sad Tale Of Kai The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker". ocativ.com. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Rose, Lisa (May 22, 2013). "Parents of Kai the Hitchhiker say the Union Co. murder suspect has had behavioral issues for years". nj.com. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Pearson, Michael (May 19, 2013). "Murder charge stuns some fans of 'Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker'". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  8. ^ "'Hatchet hitchhiker' arrested in US murder". USA Today. AP. May 18, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "Hatchet-wielding hitchhiker an internet sensation arrested for murder of NJ man". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  10. ^ Abad-Santos, Alexander (May 17, 2013). "Couch-Surfing on Viral Video Fame, 'Hatchet Hitchhiker' Arrested for Murder". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Gabbatt, Adam (May 17, 2013). "'Hatchet-wielding hitchhiker' arrested in Philadephia on murder charge". The Guardian. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  12. ^ Joshua Tehee (June 14, 2018). "Five years ago, he was 'Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker.' Now he'll be tried for murder". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  13. ^ Haydon, Tom (May 12, 2016). "3 years and counting; no trial yet for jailed YouTube star 'Kai the Hitchhiker'". nj.com. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Sophie Nieto-Munoz (April 24, 2019). "'Kai the Hitchhiker' found guilty of beating 73-year-old N.J. man to death". NJ.com. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Former Internet Star 'Kai The Hitchhiker' Found Guilty Of Murder".
  16. ^ ""Kai the Hitchhiker" sentenced to 57 years in lawyer's beating death". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  17. ^ Suzanne Russell (May 30, 2019). "'Kai the hitchhiker' gets 57 year prison term for killing Clark attorney". Bridgewater Courier News. Retrieved May 30, 2019 – via mycentraljersey.com.

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