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September 07, 2023

Danelo Cavalcante's escape from Chester County Prison is an 'outrage,' DA says

The convicted murderer, who broke free on Aug. 31, has since been spotted eight times, state police confirmed on Thursday

Crime Prison Escape
chester county prison escape danelo cavalcante Source/Chester County D.A.'s Office

Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped Chester County Prison last week, has been spotted an eighth time, according to state police. The latest sighting occurred near Longwood Gardens, where he was captured on camera earlier in the week.

As the search for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante enters a second week, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan has called his Aug. 31 escape from prison an "outrage."

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

According to Ryan, who prosecuted Cavalcante in August, when Cavalcante is located he will not be sent back to Chester County Prison. He will instead go to a state correctional institution, Ryan said during a press conference held on Thursday.

MORE: Danelo Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison with a feat of strength caught on video

"This should have never happened... We're all upset," Ryan said. "We're all concerned. There will be a thorough investigation and that will be made public at some point."

During the latest briefing, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens shared that Cavalcante was spotted for an eighth time on Thursday near Longwood Gardens.

The latest search perimeter, which was enlarged Wednesday, is south of Route 926, west of Route 100, north of Hillendale Road and east of Route 52. Police slightly adjusted the perimeter on Thursday to exclude two schools previously contained within the search area — Greenwood Elementary School and Chadds Ford Elementary School — after searching their grounds.

Despite eight days of searching  and hundreds of state, local and federal law enforcement officers, canines, aviation assets and various types of technology employed  Bivens said authorities have not lost morale.

"I have yet to hear a single complaint," Bivens said. "I interact with our people; we have shift changes where we brief outgoing troopers and officers. The morale is high and I talk to them when they come in after a lengthy shift working in these conditions. (Officers) are asking their commanders to send them here. That's how high the morale is."

Bivens also asked the public to continue familiarizing themselves with Cavalcante's photo and description, and to check security cameras for any suspicious activity.

"Again, we ask residents to please secure homes, outbuildings and vehicles," Bivens said. "Cavalcante has clearly already obtained some clothing and other unknown supplies and we want to minimize any opportunity that he might have to get anything more. It is very important we keep the pressure on him as we continue this hunt. Cavalcante is considered extremely dangerous."

Police said they have been fielding many unconfirmed sightings of Cavalcante. For instance, there was a report that he was spotted at a Walmart in East Marlborough Township, but police said they do not believe that was him. 

Bivens said authorities also have been in touch with some of Cavalcante's relatives who live in the "general area." Police have not spoken on whether they believe Cavalcante has received assistance from anyone.

Amid concern over this weekend's 38th annual Mushroom Festival in nearby Kennett Square, Bivens said police are working to ensure attendees feel safe. The event is proceeding as planned, according to its website

During this week's high temperatures, Bivens said search equipment remains usable and that officers have been given ample rest and necessary sustenance. But Wednesday's heat did send a police dog named Loki to the hospital. Loki has since been discharged from veterinary care and is recovering, Bivens said. 

On Wednesday, prison officials released video of Cavalcante's escape, which showed him stretching himself between two walls and shimmying upward with his body horizontal. He then squeezed through razor wire to access a building's roof and escaped. Cavalcante's absence wasn't discovered until nearly 45 minutes after his escape, which occurred just before 9 a.m.

Cavalcante's method of escape is similar to one used by another Chester County Prison inmate who briefly broke free in May, according to authorities.

In August, Cavalcante, a native of Brazil, was found guilty of murder for fatally stabbing his girlfriend Deborah Brandao in 2021 in front of her children. Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison and held at the county prison, where he was waiting for a transfer to a state prison.

Brandao, 33, was killed at her home in Schuylkill Township. During Cavalcante's trial, the prosecution said he stabbed Brandao because she had threatened to go to police with information about a homicide in Brazil nearly six years ago. Brazilian law enforcement say Cavalcante fatally shot a man in November 2017 after a dispute about "an alleged debt related to the repair of a vehicle." There has been a warrant for his arrest in Brazil since June 2018.

After killing his girlfriend, whom he stabbed more than 30 times, Cavalcante fled Chester County in a car and was arrested in Virginia a day later.

On Thursday, Ryan said that Brandao's family is extremely frightened amid Cavalcante's escape and have been issued police protection.

"They do have protection and they are terrified," Ryan said. "They haven't left their home. They're barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety. We do have police detail around them 24 hours a day. But I know they're very, very worried." 

Images from a trail camera at Longwood Gardens Monday night show Cavalcante wearing baggy pants and a dark, hooded sweatshirt. He was shirtless in another photo. In both images he has a backpack and another bag with him. Longwood Gardens reopened to the public on Thursday as the search moved east of the botanical garden's property.

During the initial days of the manhunt, Cavalcante was spotted four times within 2 miles of the Chester County Prison. Early Saturday morning, Cavalcante was recorded on a home security camera on the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson, 1 1/2 miles from the prison.

On Sunday, he eluded a state trooper who gave chase after spotting Cavalcante from a distance. Then Tuesday, after he was seen at Longwood Gardens, police expanded their focus to a 3-mile radius and warned residents in the area to keep their doors, cars and windows locked, and to check security cameras regularly.

He was spotted again Wednesday night near a resident's property in Pennsbury.

Cavalcante is 5 feet tall, weighs about 120 pounds and has curly black hair and brown eyes. Investigators say he has not significantly altered his appearance since his escape from prison. He speaks Portuguese, Spanish and some English. 

Anyone with information about Cavalcante can call (717) 562-2987 or 911. The award for information leading to his arrest doubled on Wednesday to $20,000.

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