Danelo Cavalcante, a convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison on August 31, was captured on Wednesday morning after a 14-day manhunt that involved hundreds of law enforcement officers and put the rural community on edge.
Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in front of her two children in 2021, managed to slip out of the Chester County Prison in West Chester by squeezing himself between two parallel walls and climbing over a fence. He also had an outstanding warrant for another homicide case in his native Brazil.
The escape triggered a massive search operation that spanned several counties and involved local, state, and federal agencies, as well as helicopters, drones, dogs, and thermal imaging technology. Cavalcante was considered armed and dangerous after he stole a rifle from a garage on Monday night and exchanged gunfire with the homeowner.
The breakthrough came on Wednesday, when a burglar alarm alerted authorities to Cavalcante’s presence at a vacant home in Pocopson Township, about 10 miles from the prison. A state police plane equipped with infrared cameras located Cavalcante hiding in the woods behind the house and directed ground units to his position.
Pennsylvania State Police arrested escapee Danelo Cavalcante. The news conference begins at 9 a.m:
BREAKING: Escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante has been captured, Pennsylvania State Police said. A news conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. https://t.co/fqecJtdb0T
— CBS Philadelphia (@CBSPhiladelphia) September 13, 2023
Cavalcante was taken into custody without incident and transported to a hospital for evaluation. He was found to have minor injuries from exposure to the elements and insect bites. He was wearing clothes that he had stolen from another residence earlier.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference that Cavalcante’s capture was a relief for the community and a testament to the dedication and cooperation of the law enforcement officers involved.
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“The nightmare is finally over,” Bivens said. “This was a very dangerous individual who had nothing to lose.” Bivens also expressed his condolences to the family of Deborah Brandão, Cavalcante’s ex-girlfriend who was brutally killed by him in 2021. He said the family had been terrorized all over again by Cavalcante’s escape and hoped they could find some peace now.
Cavalcante is expected to face additional charges for his escape and the crimes he committed while on the run. He is currently being held at an undisclosed location under high security.