August 31, 2023
Authorities are searching for a man who escaped from Chester County Prison on Thursday morning, less than two weeks after he was sentenced to life behind bars for killing his ex-girlfriend in 2021.
Around 8:50 a.m., officials at the prison said they received a report that inmate Danelo Cavalcante, 34, was missing from the facility. He had yet to be moved to a state prison following his trial and sentencing.
District Attorney Deb Ryan issued a statement warning the public to avoid contact with Cavalcante, who was last seen walking along Wawaset Road in Pocopson Township, where the county prison is located, around 9:40 a.m. Pocopson Township is about 7 miles south of West Chester and about a 40-mile drive west of Center City Philadelphia.
"Danelo Cavalcante is considered an extremely dangerous man," Ryan said.
Cavalcante, a native of Brazil, was convicted on Aug. 16 in the fatal stabbing of 33-year-old Deborah Brandao in April 2021. The stabbing happened in front of Brandao's two children outside a home in Schuylkill Township. Cavalcante, who lived in King of Prussia at the time of the stabbing, fled the scene and was later arrested in Virginia before he was sent back to Chester County to face homicide charges.
During Cavalcante's trial, Ryan said he came to the United States illegally in 2017 after he allegedly shot and killed a man who owned him money, the Daily Local reported. He was wanted in Brazil at the time of Brandao's death. Ryan said the question of deportation typically would not come up until after a defendant's sentence is finished, which in this case would be when Cavalcante dies.
All residents within a 6-mile radius of Chester County Prison have been notified of the escape. Chester County Detectives and Pennsylvania State Police are conducting the search for Cavalcante, who is described as 5 feet tall and about 120 pounds with curly black hair and brown eyes. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, gray shorts and white sneakers.
The prison has opened an internal investigation into how Cavalcante escaped.
"Once we knew we had an issue with an inmate not being there, we immediately followed our protocols, locked down the prison, did what we call a special count to confirm there was only one person missing," Howard Holland, the acting warden for the prison, said during press conference Thursday afternoon.
Ryan said authorities have been in contact with Brandao's family to ensure their safety. Police have also made contact with family members of Cavalcante who live in the area.
The D.A.'s office said anyone who sees Cavalcante or has information about him can call 911.