'Hatchet hitchhiker' arrested in US murder

ELIZABETH, New Jersey (AP) - Life on the run for the Internet sensation known as "Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker" ended when he asked for a cup of coffee. A Starbucks employee was credited on Friday with recognising 24-year-old Caleb "Kai" McGillvary, wanted in the beating death of a man nearly three times his age.

The pair met amid the neon lights of New York City's Times Square over the weekend and went to the home of 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy Jr, authorities say. On Monday, Mr Galfy was found beaten to death in his bedroom, wearing only his socks and underwear. McGillvary was arrested on Thursday in Philadelphia and charged with his murder.

McGillvary was arraigned on Friday. A court official said he has a United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainer for three arrests in Canada in recent years.

McGillvary gained a measure of fame in February after intervening in an attack on a California utility worker. In an interview viewed millions of times online, he described using a hatchet he was carrying to repeatedly hit a man who had struck a worker with his car, fending off a further attack.

His rambling, profanity-laced interview to a television station went viral, with one version viewed more than 3.9 million times on YouTube. McGillvary later appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!

On Thursday, McGillvary went into the coffee shop in Philadelphia, and the employee who waited on him recognised him and called police. McGillvary took off before police arrived, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, but an officer found McGillvary at a nearby bus terminal.

McGillvary was being held on US$3 million (S$3.7 million) bail. It was not clear whether he has a lawyer.

Statements posted on McGillvary's Facebook page following the homicide were "sexual in nature", Union County Prosecutor Theodore J Romankow said.

McGillvary's last post, dated Tuesday, asks "what would you do?" if you awoke in a stranger's house and found you'd been drugged and sexually assaulted. One commenter suggests hitting him with a hatchet - and McGillvary's final comment on the post says, "I like your idea".

Mr Romankow declined to say what object was used in Mr Galfy's beating.

Mr Romankow said McGillvary had traded on his newfound prominence to meet fans across the country, and it apparently wasn't difficult to recognise him.

"Being on YouTube too much," Mr Ramsey said, "is not always a good thing."

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