CLARK — In a matter of days the Union County Homicide Task Force apprehended the alleged killer of 73-year-old Joseph Galfy, a prominent attorney found murdered in his Starlite Drive home May 13.
The alleged killer is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, an internet sensation who made news last year when he saved a woman by hitting her attacker in the head with the backside of his hatchet.
Known on YouTube and the internet as “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” the suspect had no known permanent address, preferring to hitchhike around the country and tell people he was “home free,” not homeless.
McGillvary was charged May 16 with the homicide of Galfy and is currently is being held in Philadelphia where he was apprehended. He is awaiting extradition to New Jersey where he will be held on $3 million bail at the Union County jail in Elizabeth.
At this point, the prosecutor said, there is no timetable for when the suspect will be returned to New Jersey. A first court appearance will be scheduled once he is returned to Union County.
How the suspect was apprehended so quickly is more like a episode of CSI than a crime solved by a county task force. But one thing is certain, thanks to tips from callers and evidence at the scene, this murder suspect was able to be caught in just a matter of days.
On Thursday May 16, investigators were aware that Galfy picked up McGillvary in Times Square on Saturday May 11 and brought the drifter back to his Clark ranch-style home that night.
The next day Galfy took McGillvary to the train station in Rahway, but the drifter returned later that evening and was picked up by the attorney and taken back to his Starlite Drive home. Authorities said the attorney was murdered sometime late Sunday night, dying of blunt force trauma.
Within an hour of police entering Joseph Galfy’s home in response to a concerned call from Kochanski, Baron and Galfy, the firm where the resident was a partner, Starlite Drive was cordoned with police tape.
Clark police, the first to arrive on the scene, found the attorney dead on the floor by the side of the bed, clad only in underwear and socks, suffering from head trauma.
News of Galfy’s death in the upscale neighborhood spread quickly through the township and beyond, with most questioning how such a crime could have happened to this quiet professional who was was well liked.
Stopping short of saying Galfy had been murdered after a liaison with his killer, the prosecutor’s office waited until the results of an autopsy were revealed by the medical examiner. By the following day, there was no doubt the attorney had been bludgeoned to death and the hunt was on for the person who committed the brutal crime.
Although tight-lipped about what was discovered at the scene of the crime, Prosecutor Ted Romankow announced that the homicide task force and Clark police were in the early stages of an investigation.
Things rapidly changed by May 16, when media outlets reported the 24-year-old McGillvary allegedly murdered Galfy after a liaison that began in New York City’s Times Square.
The investigation came together very quickly after that. Within hours of a May 16 press conference identifying McGillvary as a suspect in the murder, Romankow said the Union County Crime Stoppers Tip Line was flooded with calls from around the country. Shortly after they had McGillvary cornered.
Police did not say how they connected McGillvary to the grisly Clark murder but credited those who called the Tip Line. One in particular from an individual in Cherry Hill saying he observed his neighbor with McGillvary earlier in the day. From that point, police were on the trail of McGillvary.
Ironically, on Tuesday, the day after the murder, McGillvary posted on Facebook that he had been drugged, raped and found himself in a strange house with a man he did not know and no memory of how he got there.
He also asked posters what they would do if they found themselves in this situation. Many commented that he should “use his hatchet,” according to media reports.
It was just two days later that McGillvary was arrested at the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Philadelphia, Pa. by police from that city.
The only thing left in the dark is how Galfy and McGillvary met in Times Square, or how authorities knew the internet sensation hitchhiker had committed the crime.
From the beginning, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso maintained there was no danger to the community because no forced entry was found. The mayor stressed that inviting a stranger into your home was not a good idea.
“I wish he had shown better judgement. This is a case of this resident inviting someone into his home,” he added, pointing out this was not the actions of a serial killer.
Romankow was proud of how quickly the Union County Homicide Task Force acted and said so in a press statement.
“I am grateful for the overwhelming response and dedicated effort by the public and law enforcement that led to this arrest,” the prosecutor said, adding that he believed “everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets.”
Galfy’s funeral was May 17 in Watchung.