In The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, Netflix’s latest true crime doc, a reporter opines that Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, the hatchet wielding hitchhiker of the title, may have been carrying a hatchet on Feb. 1. 2013, for protection. He was, after all, homeless — or home-free, to use McGillvary’s phrase — and might have wanted the hatchet for self-defense.
As viewers of the documentary know, he ended up using it to defend someone else. On that fateful day, McGillvary accepted a ride from motorist Jett McBride, who soon became unhinged: He plowed his car into an electric company construction crew, then attacked a woman while claiming to be Jesus Christ and making racist remarks. McGillvary struck him repeatedly to save her.
McBride’s attorney, Scott Baly, responded to MovieMaker and clarified that McBride was found not guilty by reason of insanity at his Dec. 2013 trial for hitting and injuring the utility worker.
This led to an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which he told Kimmel his supposed reason for carrying the hatchet: carpentry. Curiously, the moment is left out of the Netflix doc, perhaps because it’s hard to tell if Kai is serious or kidding. He told Kimmel he was “trying to do this really cool ass treehouse with willow hooks” that would have also had a dreamcatcher, tarps, and sheets with moss for insulation. He also mentioned “a crab trap” that would go “inside of a hot water tank heater.”
Kimmel joked: “You’re gonna do all that with a hatchet? What is this some magical hatchet that you wave and contractors appear?”
“No, I’m just a badass [expletive]” Kai replied.
Many authorities take everything McGillvary says with many grains of salt. When he first became a viral sensation because of his hatchet wielding on McBride, he neglected to mention that he had been a passenger in the car when McBride drove it into the crew.
And as The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker grimly lays out, just three months after he was praised as a hero, McGillvary was accused in the murder of a New Jersey attorney, Joseph Galfy. McGillvary says he went home with Galfy after meeting him in Times Square, but woke up the next day believing he’d been sexually assaulted. The next night, finding himself with nowhere to stay, he returned to Galfy’s home — where he says he was assaulted again. It was then that he repeatedly struck Galfy, causing his death.
Prosecutors questioned the sexual assault claim, wondering why Kai would return to Galfy’s home after being assaulted there the night before. McGillvary was sented to serve a 57-year-prison sentence in the murder.
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is now streaming on Netflix.
Main image: Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, aka Caleb “Kai” McGillvary in an interview immediately after the hatchet incident.