Ep 26 – Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hippie: Folk Hero or Murderer?

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Caleb McGillvary aka “Kai”

In February 2013 a Youtube video went viral, and for a short time a young drifter named Caleb Lawrence McGillvary was a star. In an interview with a local news station, Caleb who prefers to be known as “Kai” described how he had “suh-mashed!” in the head with a hatchet a man from whom he had recently hitched a ride. The driver who stopped to pick up Kai was mentally unstable which would become apparent after the man drove his car into a group of utility workers, and then wrapped a passerby in a bear hug while muttering that he was descended from God himself. Kai was, for a brief period after the video’s release, a folk hero.

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 was not a looker.

Kai after his arrest (left) and Joseph Galfey

Kai only enjoyed his new celebrity for a short while. Three months after Kai’s recounting of that day went viral, he killed a 73-year-old man. Kai was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to 57 years in prison. How did this happen? Is Kai really the eccentric hippie with a heart of gold that millions of people saw in that 2013 viral video? Find out on episode 26 of Where is the Line?

Kai’s interview that went viral in 2013


“About – John Bosco Child and Family Services Foundation.” Boscofoundation.Com, 2020, http://www.boscofoundation.com/about_us. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Associated Press. “2012 PG&E Worker Attack: Jury Finds Man Insane, Made Famous By ‘Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker’ Intervention.” NBC Bay Area, NBC Bay Area, 17 Jan. 2014, http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/california/jury-finds-man-insane-in-2012-attack-of-pge-worker/71208/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

“Bosco Homes Society For Children And Families – Alberta Mentoring Partnership.” Alberta Mentoring Partnership, 2013, albertamentors.ca/amp-partners/bosco-homes-society-children-families/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Campbell, Andy. “Jett Simmons McBride Claimed To Be Jesus, Attacked Driver, Thwarted By Hitchhiker With Hatchet: Cops.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 4 Feb. 2013, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/jett-simmons-mcbride-jesus-hatchet-bear-hug_n_2616737. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

CBS New York. “‘Kai The Hitchhiker’ Sentenced To 57 Years In Prison For Murder Of 73-Year-Old.” Cbslocal.Com, CBS New York, 30 May 2019, newyork.cbslocal.com/2019/05/30/kai-the-hitchhiker-sentencing-murder-of-73-year-old/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

“Defendant in Beating Death of Clark Man Indicted on First-Degree Murder Charge.” Union County Prosecutor’s Office, 18 Nov. 2013, ucnj.org/prosecutor/press-releases/prosecutor/2013/11/18/defendant-in-beating-death-of-clark-man-indicted-on-first-degree-murder-charge/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

“Driver Rams PG&E Lineman.” Ibew1245.Com, 5 Feb. 2013, ibew1245.com/2013/02/04/driver-rams-pge-lineman/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Elizabeth, and NJ. “Albertan Gets 57 Years for Killing.” The Lethbridge Herald, 2019. Global Newsstream, resolver.ebscohost.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.882004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF8&rfr_id=info:sid/ProQ%3Acanadiannews&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.jtitle=The+Lethbridge+Herald&rft.atitle=Albertan+gets+57+years+for+killing&rft.au=Elizabeth%3BNJ&rft.aulast=Elizabeth&rft.aufirst=&rft.date=20190531&rft.volume=&rft.issue=&rft.spage=B.6&rft.isbn=&rft.btitle=&rft.title=The+Lethbridge+Herald&rft.issn=0839492X&rft_id=info:doi/.

Enfes Tatlar. “Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker Saves Woman from Racist Rampage.” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAAUxAHM4io. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

“Fresno Attorney Reenacts Testimony from Kai the Hitchhiker | ABC30 Fresno | Abc30.Com.” ABC30 Fresno, 2020, abc30.com/archive/9365105/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Geiger, Dorian. “Kai The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker’s Father Vows To Fight Murder Conviction.” Oxygen Official Site, 26 Apr. 2019, http://www.oxygen.com/crime-time/kai-the-hatchet-wielding-hitchhikers-father-gil-mcgillivary-interview-after-murder-conviction. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Inside Edition. “Where Kai the Hitchhiker Ended Up After Saving Woman in 2013.” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYdfvlv9pk0. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

“Jett McBride Found Not Guilty of Attempted Murder | ABC30 Fresno | Abc30.Com.” ABC30 Fresno, 2013, abc30.com/archive/9383501/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

“Kai Was Neither Hero nor Did He Cause Crash, Witnesses Say | ABC13 Houston | Abc13.Com.” ABC13 Houston, 2020, abc13.com/archive/9361833/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

KMPH FOX 26 NEWS. “Full Interview With Kai, The Homeless Hitchhiker With A Hatchet [OFFICIAL VIDEO].” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xa0NfCdLk4. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

—. “Hitchhiker Gives Psycho the Ax! [OFFICIAL VIDEO].” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16oUKdOUstU. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Nieto-Munoz, Sophie. “‘Kai the Hitchhiker’ Found Guilty of Beating 73-Year-Old N.J. Man to Death.” Nj, 24 Apr. 2019, http://www.nj.com/union/2019/04/kai-the-hitchhiker-found-guilty-of-beating-73-year-old-nj-man-to-death.html. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

—. “‘Kai the Hitchhiker’ Reaches out Online for a ‘real Lawyer’ to Handle Appeal of His Murder Conviction.” Nj, 25 Apr. 2019, http://www.nj.com/union/2019/04/kai-the-hitchhiker-reaches-out-online-for-a-real-lawyer-to-handle-an-appeal-of-his-murder-conviction.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

—. “‘You Have to Decide If It Was Murder… or Self Defense,’ Kai the Hitchhiker’s Lawyer Tells Jury at Opening o.” Nj, 9 Apr. 2019, http://www.nj.com/union/2019/04/you-have-to-decide-if-it-was-murder-or-self-defense-kai-the-hitchhikers-lawyer-tells-jury-at-opening-of-murder-trial.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

“People v. McBride CA5 – CourtListener.Com.” CourtListener, CourtListener, 2016, http://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/3172752/people-v-mcbride-ca5/?fbclid=IwAR3Ou3yKhPJAe9L7IIgPgkxfFePfwJBpOMFgYayvaWaPt76jukJOmkMMfx8. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Rose, Lisa. “Parents of Kai the Hitchhiker Say the Union Co. Murder Suspect Has Had Behavioral Issues for  Years.” Nj, 22 May 2013, http://www.nj.com/news/2013/05/mysterious_hitchhiker_from_can.html. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Russell, Suzanne. “‘Kai the Hitchhiker’ Gets 57 Years in Clark Attorney’s Death.” CourierNews, 2019. Global Newsstream, resolver.ebscohost.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.882004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF8&rfr_id=info:sid/ProQ%3Anortheastnews1&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.jtitle=Courier++News&rft.atitle=%27Kai+the+hitchhiker%27+gets+57+years+in+Clark+attorney%27s+death&rft.au=Russell%2C+Suzanne&rft.aulast=Russell&rft.aufirst=Suzanne&rft.date=20190531&rft.volume=&rft.issue=&rft.spage=A.6&rft.isbn=&rft.btitle=&rft.title=Courier++News&rft.issn=&rft_id=info:doi/.

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh. “The Sad Tale Of Kai The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker.” Vocativ, Vocativ, 14 July 2016, http://www.vocativ.com/335097/kai-the-hatchet-wielding-hitchhiker/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

Sophie Saint Thomas. “Catching Up with Kai, the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker.” Vice, vice, 17 May 2013, http://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jmvz7x/catching-up-with-kai-the-hatchet-wielding-hitchhiker. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Star-Ledger Staff. “Authorities Rule Death of 73-Year-Old Clark Lawyer a Homicide.” Nj, 15 May 2013, http://www.nj.com/union/2013/05/clark_mans_death_ruled_a_homic.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Tharrett, Matthew. “Slain NJ Attorney Joseph Galfy Could Be Victim Of ‘Intimate Partner Violence Homicide.’” Queerty, Queerty, 17 May 2013, http://www.queerty.com/slain-nj-attorney-joseph-galfy-could-be-victim-of-intimate-partner-violence-homicide-20130517. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

“View Joseph Galfy’s Obituary on NJ.Com and Share Memories.” Nj.Com, 2013, obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=joseph-j-galfy&pid=164816393. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

“Viral Star Kai Charged with Murder.” The Charleston Gazette, 2013. Global Newsstream, resolver.ebscohost.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.882004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF8&rfr_id=info:sid/ProQ%3Asoutheastnews&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.jtitle=The+Charleston+Gazette&rft.atitle=Viral+star+Kai+charged+with+murder&rft.au=&rft.aulast=&rft.aufirst=&rft.date=20130517&rft.volume=&rft.issue=&rft.spage=D.4&rft.isbn=&rft.btitle=&rft.title=The+Charleston+Gazette&rft.issn=&rft_id=info:doi/.

wavywebsurf. “Whatever Happened to Kai The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker?” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTUop2vf–M. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

Woods, Terry. “The Trial of Jett McBride.” YouTube, 2020, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj0EdwvLK8w. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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