UNION COUNTY, New Jersey (CNN)-
A homeless hitchhiker who achieved Internet celebrity by acting as a Good Samaritan with a hatchet is now being sought by police as a murder suspect in a separate case, New Jersey authorities said Thursday.
Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, 24, is known on Facebook and YouTube as “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.” He is now facing a murder charge in Union County, New Jersey, which is also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, authorities said.
McGillvary received national attention after CNN affiliate KMPH interviewed him about a February hitchhiking experience in which he used a hatchet to subdue the driver who claimed to be Jesus and struck a utility worker with his car, then grabbed a woman as she provided help at the scene in Fresno, California.
The utility worker underwent surgery for non-life-threatening injuries, and the driver, who stood more than 6 feet tall and weighed at least 300 pounds, was arrested, the affiliate said.
With long hair sweeping out of a bandana, McGillvary provided a dramatic account of the rescue and gestured he wielded the hatchet against the rampaging motorist in a “Smash! Smash! Sa-mash!” manner, he told the affiliate. He spoke in the patois of a surfer.
The female bystander, apparently not injured, confirmed the incident in an interview with KMPH. McGillvary’s Facebook page says that “Kai saved a womans life by cleaving a man in the head, with a hatchet, after he had just hit someone with his car.” McGillvary’s story was featured on “The Colbert Report” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the affiliate said.
McGillvary is facing a murder charge in the death of Joseph Galfy Jr., according to a statement by Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. The murder charge against McGillvary carries a bail of $3 million, he said.
Authorities found Galfy dead in his home in Clark, New Jersey, on Monday, and autopsy showed he died as a result of blunt force trauma, the prosecutor said.
McGillvary also goes by the names Kai Lawrence, Caleb Kai Lawrence and Kai Nicodemus, authorities said. He has cut his hair to alter his appearance and was last seen at a light rail station in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Romankow said.
McGillvary is homeless but calls himself “homefree,” authorities said.
“Authorities believe that McGillvary relies on the generosity of strangers for food, lodging and transportation,” the prosecutor said in a statement. “He is considered to be armed and dangerous.”
By Michael Martinez
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