The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker: Did Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary murder Joseph Galfy?

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker /

Netflix’s latest true crime documentary is one you have to see to believe. The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker tells the story of Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary, a man who went viral after stopping an attack on the side of the street in Fresno, California. Kai was hitchhiking when the man driving, Jett Simmons McBride, crashed his car into a pedestrian and started attacking a woman who came by to lend help. Kai, who was living without a home and basically just out of his backpack, took out a hatchet and started hitting the assailant.

Though the incident is totally bizarre, Kai went viral and became a hero to many who saw his interview on social media. Quickly, TV executives wanted a piece of him, hoping he would become the next big thing. However, just months later that all took a turn when Kai was arrested and charged with homicide.

Kai seemed like a peaceful hippy-type who wanted to do what was right, and hey, maybe that’s who he wanted to be. However, with an extremely tough childhood and questionable life choices, he was a total loose cannon. We learn that in the documentary when TV execs tried to tame him. So what happened to Kai? Did he actually murder someone? Here’s everything to know.

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Did Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, kill someone?

The short answer is yes. Unfortunately, Kai’s story does not end on a happy note as he was convicted and sentenced to 57 years behind bars for first-degree murder. And Kai does not deny that he committed the act. However, he does argue that it was self-defense, something the jury didn’t believe.

Kai was charged with killing a 73-year-old lawyer named Joseph Galfy in his New Jersey home. As we learn in the doc, Kai met Joseph in Times Square one day, and Joseph offered to help him buy a train ticket so he could get to where he needed to be. Kai stayed the night at Joseph’s home, and Kai alleges that Joseph drugged him and sexually assaulted him. Kai maintains this is the reason he fought back, killing him in the process. The medical examiners concluded, however, that Kai’s story was not consistent with Joseph’s wounds, according to My Central Jersey.

At the time of Kai’s sentencing, Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan provided the following statement:

"“This was a brutal, vicious, senseless crime and we are pleased that the interests of justice have been served. We sincerely thank the jury for their service and hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of solace to Mr. Galfy’s family, friends and loved ones.”"

Kai is currently serving his sentence in a New Jersey prison, and though he tried to appeal his conviction in 2021, he was denied.

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is now streaming on Netflix.

Next. Full list of Netflix movies confirmed for release in 2023. dark