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What Happened to Kai the Hitchhiker?

Every now and again, someone has such an impact on a local news item that it not only gains national attention but also goes viral around the world. Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, commonly known as Kai, the ‘Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,’ or perhaps better known as the “Smash, Smash Smith-hash” person who was eventually autotuned with a killer beat:

This video was downloaded from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in a different format, or more information, on their website. The story was begging to be shared on the internet. When the driver of the car he was in smashed into a pedestrian and threatened a woman trying to help, Kai leaped up, pulled a hatchet from his bag, and struck the guy over the head with the blunt end.

He was named, and the rest is history (11 million views on the song). But McGillvary’s narrative turned out to be far darker than it appeared at first. The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, a new Netflix documentary, investigates how McGillvary was prosecuted and sentenced for murder. So, what happened in this case?

This video was downloaded from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in a different format, or more information, on their website. In February 2013, KMPH was dispatched to Fresno, California, to cover what appeared to be an attack.

Jett Simmons McBride allegedly slammed his car into a guy, and when a bystander named Tanya Baker tried to help, McBride allegedly grabbed her, prompting McGillvary, then 24, to leap in and save the woman by beating McBride on the head with a hatchet.

“A guy that massive can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick,” McGillvary claimed in the video interview. So I came up behind him with a hatchet. SUH-MASH, SUH-MASH!” McGillvary continued, telling the reporter that McBride, who had picked him up as a hitchhiker, had claimed to be “Jesus Christ” and that he could do “whatever I fucking want to,” adding, “The dude was fucking looked out.”

McGillvary was regarded as a loveable hero, especially when he added as an aside: “No matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect. Even if you make mistakes, you’re loveable”. According to the documentary’s talking heads, “there was something amusing about him, and kind of cute, lovely, and innocent.”

After emerging into an internet celebrity, in a follow-up interview with KMPH, McGillvary disclosed that he originally originated from Edmonton, Canada and that much of his life “is darker and more gut-wrenching than you can think”. He alluded to family troubles, saying, “I kept wanting to escape away… I continued telling others, but they always took her side and said, “You have to keep the family together.”

What Happened To Kai The Hitchhiker?

In May 2013, three months after the Fresno incident, McGillvary has arrested on a murder charge: the gruesome murder of 73-year-old veteran and lawyer Joseph Galfy of New Jersey. Gulfy was discovered dead at his house, but McGillvary claimed that after meeting Galfy in Times Square, he was drugged and raped by Gulfy and killed in self-defense.

Authorities, however, maintained that his explanations were contradictory, that the sexual contact was consensual, and that the savage murder was premeditated. While McGillvary’s video was becoming viral, he used it to prove his innocence.

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“Do you know how many hot chicks—never mind,” he stated from jail to Vocativ? Do you know how many attractive guys wanted to fuck me after that garbage in California, even if I wasn’t gay? I’m not even bragging. It’s just a truth, like—no offense intended, but he [Galfy] wasn’t a looker.”

But after almost six years in jail awaiting the trial, when it began, McGillvary was confrontational and a judge dubbed him a “powder ball of explosive wrath”. McGillvary was convicted guilty of murder in April 2019. According to NJ.com, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael Monahan stated, “This was a horrible, vicious, senseless crime, and we are glad that justice has been done.”

What Happened to Kai the Hitchhiker?

The judge sentenced McGillvary to 57 years in prison, telling him, “When you become eligible for parole, you will still be younger than Mr. Galfy was when you murdered him.” The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker will be available on Netflix on January 10th.

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