"Kai the hitchhiker," a homeless YouTube star famous for telling people how he "smashed" someone over the head with a hatchet, had been parlaying his Internet fame into an endless wave of couch-surfing at fans' apartments. But now he's charged with murder, and, well, that complicates things.
Kai, known to the American public as the "smash smash smash" guy, is one of the people like Antoine Dodson, Sugar Brown, and Charles Ramsey who became an internet meme after his interview with a local news station about how he got involved in a fight went viral. Here is that clip, from February, which has been viewed 3.8 million times:
After becoming a viral sensation, Kai, who had been homeless (or "homefree" as he said he preferred) did the usual media circuit. He was booked on Jimmy Kimmel days after. But the most concrete impact on his day-to-day life seems to be a lot more opportunities to stay at the homes of his friends and new fans, according to reports and his Facebook postings. Yes, this means that people, for some reason, will open up their homes to a person they saw on the Internet who is famous for wielding a hatchet. This also means, following his arrest, that some of the people who offered up their couches, are now in shock.
Kai, whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, was arrested and charged with the murder of a 73-year-old New Jersey lawyer last night. The AP reported:
McGillvary was charged with killing Joseph Galfy, Jr., a Clark, N.J., attorney found dead Monday. Romankow said he will be processed and sent to back to New Jersey, where his bail is set at $3 million.
It has not been reported how or why Galfy and Kai met each other, but officials said it happened in New York. And what's more puzzling, on the Tuesday, a day after Galfy was found dead, Kai put up a Facebook post alleging he had been raped in a stranger's house (WARNING: graphic language):
Kai has gotten support. "He's no killer. As you can see from his past, he does what he believes is right & obviously someone harmed him," reads a comment from one of his fans on that status update last night. And some people want to give him money (or at least say they do).
"i really wish i could offer financial support, but I'm strapped to the gills.........i do send love and prayers, tho...........i'm having a hard time seeing Kai as a cold-blooded killer, ...........i hope they really listen to him and do a proper investigation............" another wrote.
And one of the top comments on that original YouTube video takes the Facebook posting as fact:
As the AP points out, Kai is being sent back to New Jersey and held on bail. But up until his arrest, and after his Facebook posting on Tuesday intimating that he may have something violent, Kai was still meeting his fans. "The day after the killing, McGillvary met up with 'fans' in southern New Jersey and told them he was on his way to Philadelphia," Reuters reported.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.