In 2013, Kai Lawrence became a viral hit when he described how he came to the aid of a woman being assaulted by a man, whom he “smashed” with the blunt side of a hatchet to get off of her.
The hitchhiker was hailed a hero and became an internet sensation after a clip from his interview with KMPH News was turned into a meme, and he has spoken publicly on several occasions.
Things have taken a darker turn for Lawrence, whose real name is Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary, since the release of that clip, though, and he is now the subject of a Netflix true-crime documentary titled The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.
What Has Kai ‘The Hitchhiker’ Lawrence Said Since Viral Video?
In February 2013, Lawrence gave an interview with KMPH news in which he detailed how he was hitchhiking with a stranger in Fresno, California, when he alleged the man driving him purposefully hit a pedestrian and attacked a woman who came to their aid. It was then that Lawrence decided to act by hitting the stranger with a hatchet to save her.
His erratic account of the events, and in particular, his repetition of the word “smash,” led to the interview becoming a viral hit.
Later in the same month, KMPH spoke to Lawrence again in an interview where he explained his difficult childhood and experiences of being sexually abused.
Lawrence said that as a child he had “no support and nobody around to help me out” in Canada, and there was “a lot of bad stuff that happened.” He explained that he “wanted to get out” from his home but that “people kept taking her side.” Details of his allegations of abuse were not included in KMPH’s broadcast because they couldn’t “put [it] on air.”
“All these scars are healed, but there’s still scars,” Lawrence added. “I don’t want to go back to being a certain way. This inner child that I’ve guarded his whole life is still right here, and I love this inner child very much. I respect this inner child, I value this inner child and I am the dad that I always wanted.”
Lawrence said: “I talk to this inner child and say, ‘It’s not your fault. It wasn’t you that is responsible for them getting divorced. It was not you that was responsible for all that molestation. It wasn’t you that was responsible for all that. You just had to take the fall,’ and now that I’m older, I can say that.”
Lawrence went on to appear on talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! in February 2013, shortly after he became a viral hit.
Where Is Kai Lawrence Now?
Months after he became an internet sensation, Lawrence was arrested in connection with the killing of Joseph Galfy on May 13, 2013.
The 73-year-old attorney had been found in his home in Clark, New Jersey, where he had died from blunt-force trauma, NBC reported at the time, and Lawrence was arrested at a Greyhound Bus Terminal in Philadelphia on May 16.
Lawrence pleaded not guilty to murder and claimed he had acted in self-defense after he had allegedly been drugged and woke up to find that Galfy was sexually assaulting him. The case went to trial in April 2019.
At his trial, Lawrence’s defense attorney John Cito said the police had failed to gather evidence that would have proven the sexual assault occurred, according to a report from local news publication NJ.com.
A jury found Lawrence guilty of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to 57 years in prison. In August 2021, he failed to overturn the conviction, it was reported by NBC.
In January 2020, Lawrence spoke with Inside Edition in which he continued to state that he had acted in self-defense.
He said: “I punched him in the face and as he was on top of me and shoved me onto the bed. I wanted to get him away from me. I couldn’t get him away from me.”
When asked why he didn’t call police after the incident occurred if it was in self-defense, Lawrence said he “just had to get out of there,” and later added: “I’ve never murdered everyone.”
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is out on Netflix now.
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