“The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” to Sue Netflix, he Claims


Via Youtube

Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary first rose to fame in 2013 when a clip of him went viral after he saved a woman from a violent attack. His story took a dark turn when he was arrested for murder later that same year. Netflix released a documentary chronicling the strange nomad’s tale nearly a decade later. Kai in response to the documentary has stated he plans to sue Netflix, calling the documentary “ruthlessly exploitative.”

On January 10, 2023, Netflix released a new documentary, “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” which chronicled the story of Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, known to the world as Kai, a homeless man who rose from rags to riches after becoming a viral internet sensation.

To recap the documentary, in February 2013, Kai was hitchhiking in Fresno, California and was picked up by a man named Jett Simmons McBride. Kai told reporters that during the drive, McBride began spewing racial slurs and claimed to be Jesus Christ, shortly before ramming his car into a black utility worker. When a woman attempted to help the man, McBride stepped out of the vehicle and attempted to attack her. It was at this point that Kai intervened, thus becoming the internet sensation, “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.” Kai struck the man over the head with a hatchet, rescuing the woman. McBride was taken into custody, but for Kai, the event was far from over.

Jessob Reisbeck, an interviewer quickly caught up with Kai, camera in hand, eager to ask the mystery man anything he could about the incident. Thus, the viral video clip was born.

“I ran up behind him with a hatchet,” Said Kai to Reisbeck. “Smash! Smash! Suh-MASH!” exclaimed Kai, mimicking a hatchet motion with his hand.

This interview would turn Kai’s world upside down, and for the next few months, the overnight internet sensation would be invited on talk shows, approached by A-list celebrities, and even be offered his own reality TV show by the same producer as “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

The world seemed enamored by Kai, his carefree nature, and Robin Hood-esque lifestyle. Videos erupted all over social media of Kai playing guitar and singing, surfing, and telling stories. Kai was even featured on popular television shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” And played performances with popular bands.

“No matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect,” said Kai in one viral clip. “Even if you make mistakes, you’re lovable. No one can ever take that away from you.”

While those watching from afar adored him, the ones closer to Kai sensed something a little off about the cleaver carrying nomad. Many of the interviewers and crew members working with Kai began taking note of his violent and erratic behavior. Kai, who was often extremely intoxicated, would behave strangely in public, urinating on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while he was accompanied by TV producers, and would sometimes brag about his altercation with McBride. However, rather than take pride in rescuing the woman McBride was assaulting, Kai seemed to like talking about “smashing” him over the head. Later during a court hearing, it was revealed that initially Kai struck McBride with the dull side of the hatchet, however on the third strike, Kai used the blade. An interviewer asked Kai if he had ever done something that violent before.

“Well this one time, I was in an orchard, and this guy started beating on this woman.” Kai said, “I walked on over, and started smashing him in the head.” He then started gesturing to the camera, prompting the cameraman to zoom in on scars that were left on his knuckles. “You see all these teeth marks here for the camera? I started smashing him in the head and the teeth, busted out all his teeth!”

Brad Mulcahy, a crew member for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” who worked with Kai during his time on the show stated in an interview, “All I saw was the kind Kai. The violent Kai, I didn’t see it. Because of his demeanor, for me it got clouded. ”

Surprisingly enough, Mulcahy was far from the only person who was seemingly blinded to Kai’s concerning behaviors. Gabriel Francisco, lead singer of the band “the Redcoats” recounted his experiences performing with Kai in Fresno.

“We did sound check, and he was talking about that day, the day that he hit the man on the head with a hatchet,” Francisco recalled. “In Kai’s words, he’s bragging. He said, ‘Oh man you know, this guy picks me up, and I offer him a joint, but what he didn’t know was it was laced man.’”

Francisco, horrified, realized that Kai had drugged McBride shortly before the attack happened.

“He’s telling a group of people, and they’re all laughing,” said Francisco. “No one’s listening to what he’s saying. Everybody just kinda accepted that. Kai confessed something huge. He drugged this guy. That’s like starting a fire, and then putting the fire out and being called a hero.”

The owner of the venue where Kai and Fransisco performed later told interviewers that due to Kai’s behavior, he kicked Kai out and told him to “never come back.”

“The way he talked, interacted, and treated my staff, you don’t come and disrespect our place like this,” said the owner to interviewers.

In May 2013, things began taking a turn for Kai. On May 10th, 2013, Kai posted what he called a, “Mother’s Day Message” on his facebook account. Reisbeck, who conducted the original viral interview, described the post as “disturbing and ominous,” and, “not what you’d expect from a Mother’s Day message.”

The post read, “ First memories I was in a crib and ‘family’ was fussin [sic] over me.But I kept getting told that ‘I had a demon. I would get locked in a room for 20 hours a day with a little porta potty camp toilet in the corner of the room. Then after that my mouth filled with hot pepper and soap for yelling at the top of my lungs. Signing off, ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’”

Reisbeck found the post off-putting, however, he remembered when he met up with Kai for the first time after the original interview, Kai disclosed a significant amount of disturbing information regarding his childhood.

“I was locked in a cage for four years and treated like an animal,” Ka said to Reisbeck.

Jeremy McGillvary Wolfe, Kai’s first cousin, was brought on the documentary to discuss what he remembered from their childhood.

“I never knew him as Kai, not once,” said Wolfe. “I just knew him as Caleb.” Wolfe recalled that during their childhood, Kai would be locked away at home while he was able to go outside and play. “His mom locked him in a room for quite some time,” said Wolfe. “It was summertime, and the window was open so you could hear kids still playing outside, but there were dark blankets on the window to make it look like it was night. We knew he had it difficult.” Wolfe also stated that at one point Kai tried to start a fire in his house, and was taken to a home for “troubled teens” shortly after. “I guess his mom decided that she couldn’t cope with him anymore,” Wolfe said.

However, Kai’s mother, Shirley McGillvary told a different story. She appeared in the documentary to address the claims, and argued that what really happened was much less severe than Kai made it seem. McGillvary claimed that she never “locked him [Kai] in a room,” but she did have to keep him from “getting out of the room too early.”

“He was a free spirit,” McGillvary said to interviewers, “he would get up earlier than I did and get into stuff that could harm him. Being a responsible parent, I needed to not allow that to happen.”

She stated that she had Kai examined for any conditions, such as ADHD, but stated, “in the end, there wasn’t actually one diagnosis that was anything.” Kai was eventually placed in a home for teens, where he claims to have suffered years of physical and mental abuse as well.

At this point in the documentary, Kai’s story already seems extremely convoluted, confusing, and overall strange. However, matters are about to become significantly more complicated. Later in May 2013, three months after Kai’s interview went viral, he was arrested for the murder of 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy.

Kai claimed Galfy had drugged and raped him and the murder was done in self defense, claiming he fought Galfy, and struck him once over the head in an attempt to escape the assault. However homicide officer Rob Henderson says the crime scene told a completely different story.

“The crime scene told us that this person was just beat to death,” Henderson stated. “It didn’t look like Kai was putting up a fight because there’s gonna be defensive wounds. Nowhere did anybody say they saw Kai with scratches, cuts, bruises, anything.”

Galfy’s autopsy also made Kai’s story seem significantly more questionable. Kai claimed he struck Galfy once over the head, however, the medical report said otherwise.

Henderson stated, “based on testimony of the medical examiner, it looked like he [Galfy] was stomped. His eye orbitals were broken, his nose was broken, above his nose was broken, and his ear was almost off.”

Additionally, Galfy’s body had four broken ribs. The court also took note of Kai’s extremely short fuse and explosive behaviors. During
cross-examination by prosecution attorneys, Kai often became extremely hostile and had to be warned about his behavior by the judge.

Kai spent years behind bars while waiting for his trial, reportedly studying the law and making allegations against authorities for the way he believes his case was handled. He claims that authorities discarded evidence that would prove he was drugged, and Kai’s attorney argued during the trial that police did not investigate whether or not the alleged sexual assault took place.

Despite his plea of not guilty, in 2019 Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary was found guilty of murder, and was sentenced to 57 years in prison. Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch described Kai as a “powder keg of explosive rage,” and the prosecution described the murder as a “brutal, vicious, and senseless crime.”

Kai is still serving his sentence in Trenton’s New Jersey State Prison. In 2021, Kai filed an appeal for his case, but was unsuccessful as it was denied by the court.

Much of Kai’s story remains a mystery. It is unclear how much of Kai’s stories are true, and how much is greatly exaggerated. While some believe Kai is a sporadic and unstable killer, others believe he’s an innocent man who was let down by the American Justice system.

Just one week ago, Kai told news outlet “The Tab” he plans to sue Netflix for defamation. Kai responded to the documentary, saying he felt “ruthlessly exploited” by producers and received no payment. Additionally, in a statement to “The Tab,” Kai denied allegations that he laced McBride’s joint, and stated that he will also be suing Gabriel Francisco as well.