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September 05, 2023

Search for escaped murderer moves further south after Danelo Cavalcante is caught on camera in Longwood Gardens

New images from Pennsylvania State Police show the wanted inmate wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying two bags

Crime Prison Escape
Danelo Cavalante Longwood Gardens Pennsylvania State Police/Facebook

Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from Chester County Prison on Thursday, was seen on trail cameras at Longwood Gardens on Monday night. Authorities have expanded the ongoing search for Cavalcante to include the area just south of the botanical garden.

Danelo Cavalcante, the convicted killer who escaped Chester County Prison last week, was spotted twice on Monday night on trail cameras at Longwood Gardens.

The discovery has prompted police to expand their search for Cavalcante beyond the 2-mile perimeter around the prison in Pocopson Township from where the inmate escaped on Thursday morning. Longwood Gardens is in East Marlborough Township and just across Route 1 from Kennett Township. The north end of the botanical gardens' property is about 2 1/2 miles from Chester County Prison.

The trail cameras recorded a man, who authorities said is Cavalcante, twice on Monday night, first at 8:21 p.m. and then walking the opposite direction at 9:33 p.m, and the Pennsylvania State Police released three black-and-white images on Tuesday. Two show Cavalcante — who was sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of his girlfriend — wearing baggy wearing pants, a darker-colored hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack and another bag. In a third photo that shows the escaped killer's face, he is shirtless and with the backpack and the other bag.

At a briefing Tuesday, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said it is unknown where Cavalcante got the clothing or bags.

Authorities sent out a reverse 911 call to residents within a 3-mile radius of Longwood Gardens early Tuesday morning, alerting them to the new search area. Residents are also were warned to keep their doors, cars and windows locked, and check security cameras regularly. 

With focus of the investigation moving south of Route 1, Bivens said police have been in contact with authorities in Delaware — the state line is about 3 miles south from Longwood Gardens's Route 1 entrance.

"You're dealing with someone who is desperate and doesn't want to be caught," Bivens said. "If he can find clothing, shelter or some food, he's going to take advantage of whatever he can find. He's a bad guy, he needs to be in custody, and we're determined to capture him. I'm confident he will slip up. We're making him move, and that's a good thing."

Despite the new clothes, Cavalcante has not significantly altered his appearance, Bivens said. Cavalcante is 34 years old and from Brazil. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish, stands 5 feet tall and weighs about 120 pounds, and he has curly black hair and brown eyes. Prior to changing his clothes, he had been seen wearing a white t-shirt, gray shorts and white sneakers.

Pennsylvania State Police are leading the search for the escape inmate with assistance from the Chester County District Attorney's Office, U.S. Marshals, FBI and U.S. Border Patrol, Bivens said.

Two school districts, the Kennett Consolidated School District and the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Districtcanceled classes on Tuesday because of the search for Cavalcante. Longwood Gardens also is closed on Tuesday.

After canceling classes Friday afternoon, West Chester University, which is about 6 miles from Chester County Prison, resumed a normal schedule on Tuesday, keeping in place stepped-up security on campus and at school buildings.

On Monday, Bivens confirmed there had been four earlier sightings of Cavalcante within 2 miles of the county prison in Pocopson. In one on Sunday, Cavalcante was spotted by a trooper from a distance. The trooper chased him, but Cavalcante eluded him, Bivens said. Early Saturday morning, Cavalcante was recorded on a home security camera on the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson, just 1 1/2 miles from Chester County Prison.

In August, Cavalcante was convicted of murder for fatally stabbing his girlfriend Deborah Brandao in 2021. She was killed in front of her children, and Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison. He was being held at the county prison before his transfer to a state prison when it was discovered he escaped at 9 a.m. on Aug. 31. 

Cavalcante killed Brandao, 33, at her home in Schuylkill Township. During his trial, the prosecution said Cavalcante stabbed Brandao because she had threatened to go to police with information about his involvement in a homicide in Brazil nearly six years ago.

Brazilian law enforcement said Cavalcante fatally shot a man in November 2017 after a dispute about "an alleged debt related to the repair of a vehicle," and there has been a warrant for his arrest 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.

Anyone with information about Cavalcante can call (717) 562-2987 or 911. There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.