In a matter of months, Caleb “Kai” McGillvary has transformed from a viral internet hero into a suspect arrested for murder. According to the Associated Press, Kai was arrested late Thursday afternoon based on allegations that the 24-year-old homeless hitchhiker beat a New Jersey lawyer to death.
Kai was arrested at a Philadelphia bus station and charged with the murder of Joseph Galfy, Jr., a 73-year-old New Jersey attorney found dead in his home on Monday. According to the Union County prosecutor’s office, Galfy was found wearing only his underwear and socks, and an autopsy report determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
According to Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow, Kai and Galfy allegedly met in Times Square and Kai spent at least two nights in Galfy’s New Jersey home, about 20 miles west of New York City. On Tuesday morning, Kai was believed to have left New Jersey on a train headed for Philadelphia.
Authorities confirm that Kai will be processed and sent back to Union County, New Jersey where he will be held on a $3 million bail.
Kai first rose to fame in February when he was interviewed by a Fresno, Calif. TV station. In the profanity-laced interview that quickly went viral, Kai colorfully described a peculiar incident where an allegedly racist driver attempted run over and kill an African American utility worker. The driver then reportedly began to attack a female bystander, at which point Kai intervened by "smashing" the driver with a hatchet.
“A guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick,” he told reporter Jessob Reisbeck. “So I fucking ran up behind him with a hatchet. Smash, smash, SMASH!”
The original video quickly racked up millions of hits and Kai became an immediate internet sensation, sparking many spin-off videos and even a few auto-tuned parodies. Kai even appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in February, where Kimmel acknowledged his heroism, presented him with a surfboard, and even jokingly asked Kai to be the new pope.
If you still have not seen Kai the Hitchhiker's original viral video, check it out below. But be warned, the uncensored video contains explicit language and graphic descriptions.
If the murder allegations prove to be true, criminologist Eric Hickey says Kai's recent fame may have been a factor.
"He's gotten so much attention from the media over this being a hero, that he may miss that attention and he may want that attention and may have inadvertently or intentionally harmed somebody else," said Hickey.