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Viral star Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker wanted for murder

Justice SystemCrime, Law and JusticeHomicideYouTubeComedy Central (tv network)

"Smash, Smash, SmAAaash!!!"

Those words made "Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker a viral sensation. That was his description of how he swung a blow for justice in Fresno to stop a large driver who allegedly ran over and attacked a PG&E employee.

Now those words could come back to haunt him. New Jersey prosecutors say Kai, 24, a.k.a. Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, is wanted for the blunt force trauma slaying of a lawyer.

The Union County homicide task force has a murder warrant for the arrest of McGillvary,a homeless drifter, in the slaying of attorney Joseph Galfy in Clark, N.J.

Galfy was found dead Monday inside his home on Starlite Drive when officers made a welfare check, Union County prosecutors spokesman John Holl said.

An autopsy determined Galfty died of blunt force trauma.

Holl said he could not reveal how the hitchhiker was tied to the lawyer's killing.

McGillvary, also known as Kai Lawrence, Caleb Kai Lawrence and Kai Nicodemus, usually wears his hair long and shaggy and may have cut it off to avoid being identified, prosecutors said.

Kai is well known on Facebook and YouTube and has traveled the country relying on the generosity of others for lodging, food and transportation.

It was in Fresno that Kai's meteoric rise to fame via viral video began after he helped a woman who was being attacked. KMPH-TV news captured a memorable interview with Kai in a video that received more than a million hits.

Stephen Colbert aired the video on his Comedy Central show, adding in his trademark commentary that the young man's heroics had prompted him to rethink his previous prejudice against hitchhikers with axes. McGillvary also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show.

Now authorities say they are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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