what happened to kai the hitchhiker

Every once in a while, a person makes such a splash in a regional news story that they gain national and even international notoriety.

Like Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, aka Kai, the “Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” or more famously, the “Smash, Smash Smith-hash” guy who was eventually autotuned with a sick beat:

This was a tale made for the worldwide web. The driver of the car Kai was riding in hit a pedestrian and threatened a woman who was trying to help; Kai, ever the do-gooder, jumped out,

pulled a hatchet from his bag, and smashed the guy over the head with the blunt end. He became the subject of a meme, and the rest, along with 11 million video views, is now ancient history.

McGillvary’s tale, however, was far more sinister than it had appeared at first. The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, a new Netflix documentary, examines the events that led to McGillvary’s murder conviction. What, then, was the actual outcome of the case?

Historical Context

KMPH was dispatched to Fresno, California, in February 2013 to report on what appeared to be the site of an attack. It was reported that a man named Jett Simmons McBride rammed his car into another person,

Historical Context

and when a bystander named Tanya Baker tried to help, McBride grabbed her. At that point, 24-year-old Sean McGillvary stepped in and rescued Baker by hitting McBride in the head with a hatchet.

McGillvary stated, “A guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick” during the video interview. So I snuck up on him and swung a hatchet at him. Crush, crush, SUH-MASH!

McGillvary continued by telling the reporter that McBride, the hitchhiker’s driver, had claimed to be “Jesus Christ” and that he could do “anything I fucking want to.” He concluded by saying, “The dude was fucking kooked out.”

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The aside, “No matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect,” cemented McGillvary’s reputation as a likable hero. You are lovable despite your flaws. It is noted by the documentary’s interviewees that “there was something funny about him, and kind of cute, sweet, and innocent.”

Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, The Protagonist Of Netflix’s The Hatchet-Holding Hitchhiker, Is Portrayed By Actor Caleb McGillvary

British Columbia native Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, better known by his stage name Kai, is 34 years old. He shot to fame in 2013 after an interview he gave to a California news outlet went viral.

Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, The Protagonist Of Netflix's The Hatchet-Holding Hitchhiker, Is Portrayed By Actor Caleb McGillvary

The internet dubbed Kai “Kai the Hatchet-Waving Hitchhiker” after he saved a woman from an attacker who was hitchhiking with him. The driver ran a red light, hit a pedestrian at an intersection, and then attacked a bystander who stopped to help.

Kai halted the assault by swinging the handle side of his hatchet at the attacker. In an interview with KMPH out of Fresno, California, Kai recounted the incident with great zeal, mentioning that he hit the man and famously yelled, “Smash, smash, Suh-mash!”

Adding autotune to the video made Kai an instant hit with internet users all over the world. In spite of the fact that he was a homeless nomad with no fixed address and therefore difficult to locate,

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he ended up appearing on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and was even approached by a producer who had previously worked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians about appearing in a reality show.

Hitchhiker With A Hatchet, Based On A True Story

Kai was arrested and charged with the murder of a 73-year-old New Jersey attorney named Joseph Galfy two months after that video went viral. On May 13th, 2013, Galfy’s body was discovered in his apartment. He had been brutally murdered.

Hitchhiker With A Hatchet, Based On A True Story

On May 11th, Kai and the attorney met in Times Square, and later, Kai returned to his home. Video footage revealed that Galfy bought a train ticket and hugged Kai. Prosecutors eventually tracked down Kai to a bus station in Philadelphia and arrested him on the basis of this footage and text messages found on Galfy’s phone.

Kai stated that Galfy had drugged and raped him and that he had resorted to attacking Galfy in self-defense.

Galfy’s body was discovered a few days after he posted a Facebook status about sexual assault, asking, “what would you do” if you woke up in a strange house and realized you had been drugged and raped. Attorney John Cito for Kai stated that there was evidence of sexual activity in the home,

as well as evidence that Galfy had viewed adult content websites and had contact information for young men on his cell phone. The prosecution claimed that Kai was seeking vigilante justice after a list of sex offenders was discovered in his bag. (In the Netflix documentary, the prosecutors reiterated this theory.)

Where Is Kai The Hitchhiker Now?

Kai was taken into custody, and he will now wait for his trial in 2019 to begin. After a trial, a jury found Kai guilty of first-degree murder. He received a fifty-seven-year prison term.

When Kai’s appeal in 2021 failed, he decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. At this time, Kai is still being held in the Trenton facility of the New Jersey State Prison.

Kai A video of an interview with the Hitchhiker quickly went viral. This is what Kai had to say about it in a video: “I sprinted inside, snatched the keys, and found him sitting there as if nothing had happened. There would have been a lot of dead people around here if he had started driving that car again.”

He claimed the driver had grabbed a woman who had stopped to help the victimized pedestrian. After that, he said, “A guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick, so I f**king ran up behind him with a hatchet – smash, smash, smash!”


McGillivary was arrested and charged with murder on May 16 in Clark, New Jersey, for the slaying of attorney Joseph Galfy on May 15. McGillivary tried to use the video’s viral status and subsequent fallout as a defense, but he was found guilty and given a 57-year sentence.


  • Karan Sirari

    I am an author and a public speaker. I was born in India and have travelled to many different countries. I have a masters in public communication from California University and I love to write about famous peoples from different industries.

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