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Famed hitchhiker 'Kai' heading to N.J. on murder charge

May 28, 2013|By Tina Susman
  • Caleb "Kai" McGillivary, 24, seen in this undated photo, agreed to be extradited to New Jersey.
Caleb "Kai" McGillivary, 24, seen in this undated photo, agreed… (Associated Press )

The man who gained fame as "Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker" for allegedly saving a California utility worker from a crazed trucker agreed Tuesday to be extradited to New Jersey to face charges he murdered an attorney he befriended on his travels.

Caleb Lawrence McGillivary, 24, who goes by "Kai" and whose surname has also been spelled McGillvary, waived extradition during a hearing conducted via closed circuit television from a jail in Philadelphia, where he was arrested Thursday. The Star-Ledger described McGillivary as speaking in a slow and halting voice during the hearing.

Asked his address, McGillivary said "No fixed address," the Star-Ledger reported. He wore an orange prison outfit and was shackled. Asked if anyone had promised him anything in exchange for waiving extradition, McGillivary replied: "Somebody offered me a cigarette." He later said nobody had promised him anything.

Once he is brought to New Jersey, McGillivary will face charges he murdered 73-year-old attorney Joseph Galfy Jr., who was found beaten to death in his Clark, N.J., home on May 13. Prosecutors say Galfy and McGillivary had met earlier that week in New York City and that Galfy had invited the hitchhiker to stay in his suburban home.

Galfy's body was discovered three days later after relatives asked police to check on the lawyer. McGillivary was nowhere to be found, but a posting on his Facebook page on May 14 alleged he had woken up in a "strangers [sic] house" and realized he had been raped. "What would you do?" he wrote.

Police say McGillivary spent time in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before being spotted in a Philadelphia Starbucks the evening of May 17, after prosecutors identified him as a suspect in Galfy's murder.  

The allegations are in sharp contrast to the image that McGillivary and his fans have presented of the young man who claims to have used his hatchet to save a PG&E worker in danger of being killed by a trucker in Fresno in February. In an interview with KMPH-TV after that incident, McGillivary described hitting the truck driver, Jett McBride, to save the utility worker.

"Smash, smash, SUH-MASH!" McGillivary said in the interview, which became a YouTube hit and gained him legions of fans. In a later interview with KMPH, McGillivary said he was from West Virginia, had fled an abusive childhood and  spent his time hitchhiking around the country and befriending people. "I am the dad I always wanted," he told KMPH. "I'm good to people."

But his parents, who divorced when McGillivary was a child, denied allegations of abuse in interviews with the Star-Ledger and with Canadian media. Both have said that McGillivary suffers from mood disorders and spent years in treatment homes and hospitals. 

In Fresno, meanwhile, McBride has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges he tried to murder the PG&E worker with his truck. McBride has alleged that he had given McGillivary a ride that day in his truck and that it was the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker who tried to steer the vehicle toward the utility worker.

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