It started with a man claiming he was Jesus and allegedly ended in a killing.
Back on February 1, homeless hitchhiker Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, who goes by “Kai,” caught a ride with Jett Simmons McBride, 54. The two were cruising around West Fresno, California, when McBride reportedly went nuts.
“You know what? I come to realize that I’m Jesus Christ and I can do anything I fucking want to,” Kai recalled McBride saying in an interview with local Fox affiliate KMPH.
McBride then drove his car into a PG&E utility crew on the side of the road, crushing one of the worker’s legs and pinning him against the vehicle. Fresno police officials reported that the 6-foot-4, 290-pound McBride emerged from his vehicle and started beating the 37-year-old worker. Two female bystanders, including Tanya Baker, tried to break up the fight. McBride then reportedly turned on the women, and grabbed Baker violently.
All of a sudden, Kai sprang into to action. The spaced-out drifter grabbed a hatchet from his bag and confronted McBride.
“A guy that big can snap a woman’s head like a pencil stick, so I fucking went up right behind him with a hatchet. Smash, SMASH, SUH-MASH!” he told KMPH.
The interview immediately went viral, getting millions of YouTube hits, and Kai became a viral celebrity. Fans feted him across the globe, and he even appeared in a skit with host Jimmy Kimmel on ABC’s late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Now Kai is allegedly a killer.
On Thursday in Philadelphia, he was arrested and charged with killing Joseph Galfy Jr., a 73-year-old attorney in Clark, New Jersey. Galfy was found dead in his home on Monday—wearing only underwear and socks—after police received a call to check in on him. According to coroners, Galfy died of blunt force trauma, and officials say they have video evidence linking Kai to the slaying, ABC 30 reports.
A message Kai reportedly posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday may shed some light on the nature of their encounter:
The heroes we put up on these viral pedestals, it seems, aren’t infallible supermen like Iron Man, Batman, or Superman.
“what would you do if you woke up with a groggy head, metallic taste in your mouth, in a strangers house ... walked to the mirror and seen come dripping from the side of your face from your mouth, and started wretching, realizing that someone had drugged, raped, and blown their fuckin load in you? what would you do?”
Kai met Galfy on Saturday in New York City’s Times Square and then “spent at least two nights at his home on a cul-de-sac in Clark, a quiet community about 20 miles west of New York,” said Union County prosecutor Theodore Romankow. Kai also made several trips after the alleged murder, including to meet a fan in Asbury Park, and to Philadelphia and Glassboro, New Jersey, the AP reports. He was apprehended at a Philadelphia bus station on Thursday and reportedly had cut his hair to disguise himself.
Underneath the aforementioned Facebook posting, a “friend” of Kai’s who goes by the name Terry Ratliff commented, “Find them as fast as I could and SUH-MASH the SHIT out of them with a hatchet or whatever else I could find!! Dude … Wtf? U serious?” To this, Kai reportedly responded, “i like your idea Terry.”
Kai will be sent back to New Jersey, where his bail is set at $3 million, Romankow told the AP.
The twisted saga of Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker is the latest in a recent string of strange and disturbing behavior among our viral heroes.
On May 6, Charles Ramsey, 43, became a national hero after helping to rescue Amanda Berry, who had been missing for a decade, from the home of alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro, 52. Ramsey’s 911 call also saved three other people who were allegedly kidnapped and held captive in the home for years—Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who has been confirmed as Castro’s via DNA testing. It was the zany TV interview he conducted with Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV that made him an instant viral celebrity.
Sporting an Einstein-esque coif, the McDonald’s employee said: “I heard screaming, and I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside [of the house] … I go on the porch and she said, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.’ I figure it was domestic-violence dispute … She comes out with a little girl and says, ‘Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry.’” He added, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl runs into a black man’s arms, I said, ‘Something is wrong here.’”
The video now has more than 7 million views on YouTube, and Ramsey’s name was trending on Twitter for two full days. He was America’s favorite crazy uncle.
Two days after his heroics, The Smoking Gun published court records indicating that Ramsey had a history of domestic violence himself. His first domestic-violence charge reportedly came in February 1997, and he was found guilty a year later after pleading no contest. He was charged with domestic violence again in July 1998, and in August 1998 was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation and required to attend a domestic-violence counseling program. In January 2003 he was charged again with domestic abuse after allegedly assaulting his (now ex-) wife, Rochelle, in their Cleveland home. Rochelle reportedly called 911 and screamed, “My husband is trying to kill me!” according to a police report unearthed by TSG.
More strange than disturbing was openly gay viral sensation Antoine Dodson’s renouncing of his homosexuality via Facebook. The 26-year-old shot to viral stardom after he was interviewed on July 28, 2010, by NBC affiliate WAFF-48 News, when an intruder allegedly attempted to rape his sister in her second-story bedroom in the Lincoln Park housing project of Huntsville, Alabama. With his wild mane covered by a bandana, the flamboyant Dodson, speaking directly to the camera, exclaimed: “Well, obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He’s climbin’ in yo windows, he’s snatchin’ yo people up, tryin’ to rape ’em. So y’all need to hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband cause they rapin’ everybody out here.” The YouTube video of the interview received tens of millions of YouTube hits, and Dodson was interviewed on the Today show, among many other programs. A song remix of his interview by the Gregory Brothers, dubbed “The Bed Intruder Song,” sold 250,000 copies on iTunes.
On May 2, Dodson posted a message on his Facebook page:
“I have to renounce myself, I’m no longer into homosexuality I want a wife and family, I want to multiple and raise and love my family that I create. I could care less about the fame and fortune, I’ve giving all that up to know the true history of the bible. For I am the True Chosen Hebrew Israelite descendant of Judah.”
The heroes we put up on these viral pedestals, it seems, aren’t infallible supermen like Iron Man, Batman, or Superman. They’re human beings, warts and all, and sometimes people can be pretty shitty.
Oh, well. As far as viral crime fighting goes, guess we’ll always have Ryan Gosling.