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September 12, 2023

Escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante is armed, police say; people in northern Chester County urged to stay cautious

The convicted murderer was last seen in South Coventry Township after stealing a rifle during a home break-in, authorities say. The search is in its 13th day

Investigations Manhunt
Cavalcante Armed Chester County D.A./Facebook

Danelo Cavalcante was seen armed with a rifle in South Coventry Township, just north of East Nantmeal Township in northern Chester County, early Tuesday morning, according to Pennsylvania State Police. The photo above shows Cavalcante last weekend.

Danelo Cavalcante is armed with a rifle, and people in South Coventry Township in northern Chester County are urged to stay indoors and exercise caution as the search for the escaped prisoner continues, police said early Tuesday morning. 

LATEST: Convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante captured, ending the 13-day manhunt for escaped Chester County prisoner

Cavalcante was last seen in the area of Ridge, Coventry and Daisy Point roads in South Coventry Township, Pennsylvania State Police said in a social media post at 1:47 a.m. Residents have been asked to lock all doors and windows and secure vehicles.

As people within the search perimeter were leaving for work Tuesday morning, state police were searching their vehicles before allowing them to proceed. Cavalcante was last seen shirtless, wearing dark pants and carrying a .22-caliber rifle along with a flashlight, police said.

A motorist spotted Cavalcante on the 1900 block of Fairview Road at about 8 p.m. on Monday night. State troopers, who were already in the area, formed a perimeter. A border patrol team, wearing tactical gear, went directly to the place he was spotted and found footprints matching the prison-issued shoes Cavalcante was wearing when he escaped Chester County Prison on Aug. 31. Both of his shoes were located shortly afterward, police said. A pair of work boots were reported stolen near the area. 

At 10:10 p.m., a homeowner on the 3500 block of Coventryville Road in East Nantmeal Township called police to report that a man matching Cavalcante's description had entered his garage and grabbed a rifle with a mounted scope. The homeowner, who was in his home, then used a pistol to shot at the intruder, whom police believe is Cavalcante. 

A green sweatshirt and white t-shirt were found near the edge of the driveway. Police believe they belong to Cavalcante.

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said that the search perimeter has been updated to include Route 23 to the north, Route 100 to the east, Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south and Iron Bridge and County Park roads to the west. The search area is approximately three miles long from east to west and just over two miles long from north to south. 

Bivens said that about 100 officers wearing tactical gear are surrounding the area and will continue to do so until Cavalcante is captured. No evacuation or shelter-in-place orders have been issued, but residents should stay "vigilant," Bivens said. 

The manhunt for Cavalcante, 34, is now in its 13th day. He was sentenced to life in prison last month for killing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, at her Schuylkill Township home in 2021. Despite more than eight confirmed sightings since his escape, Cavalcante has continued to evade police perimeters.

Authorities maintained a presence throughout northern Chester County on Monday. Cavalcante was first seen in the northern section of the county, about 25 miles from Chester County Prison, on Saturday night. The escaped prisoner appeared on a Ring doorbell camera in East Pikeland Township at the home of a former associate that he sought out for help, police said. 

Earlier that night, Cavalcante stole a refrigerated van from a dairy business near Longwood Gardens and later abandoned the vehicle in East Nantmeal Township, just west of where he was spotted on camera. He later appeared at another coworker's residence. Both homeowners contacted police. 

On Sunday, police revealed that Cavalcante's sister, Eleni Cavalcante, was taken into custody by federal immigration officers after she didn't cooperate with the search for her brother. Police said that she is no longer permitted to be in the country and could face deportation.

In response to the increased police presence throughout northern Chester County, the Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown is closed on Tuesday. 

The reward for information leading to Cavalcante's arrest was increased to $25,000 on Monday. Anyone with information on Cavalcante's whereabouts can call 911 or the state police tip line at (717) 562-2987. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.