Famed ‘hatchet hitchhiker’ wanted in NJ homicide

Topics: From the Wires,

Famed 'hatchet hitchhiker' wanted in NJ homicideIn this undated photo downloaded from the Union County Prosecutor’s website, Caleb “Kai’ Lawrence McGillivary is shown. McGillivary, 24, is being sought by New Jersey authorities on a murder warrant in the beating death of a New Jersey lawyer he befriended in New York’s Times Square. The homeless hitchhiker had previously gained Internet and TV celebrity status by using a hatchet to intervene in an attack in California on a utility worker on Feb. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Union County Prosecutor’s Office)(Credit: AP)

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A homeless, hatchet-wielding hitchhiker who became an Internet hero earlier this year is wanted for allegedly beating a New Jersey lawyer to death inside his home, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Caleb “Kai” McGillvary is wanted on a murder warrant and should be considered armed, according to Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow.

The self-proclaimed “home-free” McGillvary was last seen traveling to Philadelphia.

“We don’t know where he is,” Romankow said. “But we do know this man is used to being on the road and he is considered dangerous.”

Known as “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” McGillvary took a star turn after intervening in an attack on a California utility worker. He described using a hatchet he was carrying to repeatedly hit a man who had struck the worker with his car.

“In the past he has had the ability to use the back end of a hatchet and it’s very possible he may be carrying that,” Romankow said.

Joseph Galfy, Jr., was found dead in his home Monday, two days after authorities said he met McGillvary in New York City. He was found wearing only his underwear and socks by police who went to his home to check on his well-being, the prosecutor said.

Statements posted on McGillvary’s Facebook page following the homicide indicated the encounter was sexual in nature, Romankow said, though he declined to go into specific detail.

On his Facebook page, 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.”

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 and unprovoked attack on a Pacific Gas & Electric employee. The interview went viral, with one version viewed more than 3.9 million times on YouTube. He later appeared 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 said McGillvary, who said in his TV appearance he prefers to be called “home-free” instead of homeless, traded on his newfound celebrity to meet fans across the country.



McGillvary met Joseph Galfy, Jr., on Saturday in Times Square. Investigators know he was there based on witness accounts, the prosecutor said.

“He was well-known,” Romankow said.

McGillvary spent at least two nights in Galfy’s brick home on a cul-de-sac in Clark, 20 miles west of New York, Romankow said.

Authorities believe Galfy drove McGillvary to the train station on Sunday and McGillvary boarded a train to Asbury Park to meet a fan before returning and being picked up by Galfy later in the day. That night, McGillvary called the fan again asking her for a ride, Romankow said. She couldn’t pick him up, and McGillvary’s phone went dead after that.

According to a police reconstruction of his travels after leaving Clark, the suspect somehow got back to the train station Monday and returned to Asbury Park to meet the fan. The two traveled to Philadelphia. After lunch, they traveled to Glassboro, in southern New Jersey, and he stayed with another fan there. On Tuesday he boarded a train to Philadelphia. That’s where authorities have lost track of him.

McGillvary had mentioned at one point heading to Georgia to visit a girlfriend, Romankow said. Investigators believe he has cut his hair to alter his appearance.

McGillvary swiftly gained notoriety after he was interviewed in February.

McGillvary told the station 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, walked up to the utility worker and allegedly told him, “I am Jesus and I am here to take you home,” McGillvary pulled a hatchet from his backpack and struck the driver in the head several times to subdue him, The Fresno Bee reported.

Last month, the driver entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the newspaper reported.

McGillvary also goes by the names Kai Lawrence, Caleb Kai Lawrence and Kai Nicodemus, prosecutors said. A reward of $5,000 was offered for information leading to his arrest.

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