Danelo Cavalcante escape: Murder convict spotted twice on Friday, Pennsylvania police say

Danelo Cavalcante missing since breaking out of Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania on Aug. 31

By6abc Digital Staff WPVI logo
Saturday, September 9, 2023
Murder convict spotted twice on Friday within search area, police say
Danelo Cavalcante escape: Murder convict spotted twice on Friday within search area, police say

POCOPSON TWP., Penn. -- Pennsylvania State Police say there have been two additional confirmed sightings of escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante.

The two newest sightings were within the search area on Friday, police said.

Danelo Cavalcante, a 34-year-old from Brazil, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. The breakout mirrored an earlier escape there in May and wasn't detected by guards for a full hour, authorities say.

For 10 days, Cavalcante has eluded hundreds of law officers, including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, cops on horseback and from aircraft.

Chopper 6 was overhead on Friday afternoon as officers swarmed an area near Longwood Gardens, a location where the inmate was spotted several times this week.

Cavalcante remains at large, but investigators believe he is still within the search perimeter of 8 to 10 square miles.

Chopper 6 was overhead on Sept. 8, 2023, as officers surrounded an area near Longwood Gardens in the search for escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante.

SEE ALSO: Danelo Cavalcante escape: Pennsylvania killer possibly spotted again near Longwood Gardens

Pennsylvania prison fires tower guard on duty when killer escaped

The Chester County Prison tower guard who did not see or report the escape of convicted killer Cavalcante nine days ago was fired on Thursday, according to the district attorney's office.

The guard was an 18-year veteran of the prison. He has not been identified.

Video shows Cavalcante walking toward a doorway at the Chester County Prison. He then spends a moment looking over his shoulder.

Cavalcante then places his hands on one wall and his feet on another, then manages to scale the walls while parallel to the ground.

The fired guard was in the observation tower but that person did not see the escape, according to Acting Warden Howard Holland.

Inside the command center

Crews are working in 12-hour shifts to help find the inmate.

Inside a command center, state troopers, customs and border agents and FBI agents are manning the phones, taking in tips and dispatching law enforcement accordingly. They're also watching live camera feeds and taking in a stream from the helicopter's aerial view.

A giant map of the latest perimeter is projected on the wall to show exactly where trooper vehicles are stationed to dispatch accordingly.

"We pulled more people in through the night last night, some additional help from other agencies, from our own agency," Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens told reporters Friday.

"We have got somewhere north of 350, close to 400 people working on this today as we speak."

A giant map of the latest perimeter is projected on the wall to show exactly where vehicles are stationed in the search for Danelo Cavalcante.

Security increased for Mushroom Festival

As this intense manhunt continues, the Mushroom Festival, a longtime tradition in Kennett Square, is set to begin.

Security is being increased for the two-day festival that brings tens of thousands of people to this part of Chester County.

The Mushroom Festival is just outside of the search perimeter for Cavalcante, but organizers of the event say they are prepared.

"We look at what we've got going on in terms of exhibits and the number of vendors and the streets that we encompass, and we have a great security system group this year," said Gale Ferranto, the Mushroom Festival coordinator.

Security increased for Mushroom Festival amid search for prisoner

Inmate caught on camera again

On Thursday night, Longwood Gardens closed early and evacuated amid a massive law enforcement response.

Sources tell Action News the flurry of activity was in response to the discovery of an image of Cavalcante captured on a trail camera on Longwood Gardens property. That image was captured Wednesday evening but was not viewed until Thursday afternoon by law enforcement sifting through hundreds of captured images from trail cameras throughout the perimeter.

A text message was sent out by Longwood Gardens ordering those on the property to shelter in place as a precaution.

The garden says it will be closed until further notice.

Since the escape, there have been multiple sightings near Longwood Gardens and the surrounding area that police believe could be Cavalcante.

Authorities provide update on search for escaped murder convict

Cavalcante changed from a nice neighbor to a jealous boyfriend, victim's sister says

The escaped prisoner was convicted of killing his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, stabbing her 38 times in front of her two young children in Schuylkill Township in 2021.

The victim's sister, Sarah Brandao, told CNN that Cavlacante seemed to transform over time, eventually exuding jealousy and threatening Deborah before her death.

Sarah, who lived near both of them and is taking care of Deborah's two children and well as her own daughter in Pennsylvania, is terrified about his escape and worried that he could come after her.

"I haven't slept for many days. Since (his escape) I have been waking up with fright at night. I nap and wake up with fright," Sarah Brandao told CNN in an interview translated from Portuguese to English.

His behavior toward Deborah changed over time, Sarah said.

"She kept saying that he was extremely jealous - that when he drank, he became a different person; that he kept going through her cell phone," Sarah said.

Resident joining in the search

Ryan Stiles lives in Chester County and is now joining in on the hunt for Cavalcante.

"I fear for the safety of everyone. My mom lives here. I have family friends who live here so, it's getting ridiculous," he said.

On Thursday, he grabbed his pistol and went into the woods to start his own search. He says he's familiar with the terrain and has an idea of where to look.

"I have a feeling with how hot it's been the last couple of days. Basically I'm going to be trekking up and down the Brandywine River here because he needs water. You can't live without water," said Stiles.

Police are asking residents to leave the search up to the authorities.

"I would ask them not to do it. I can't prevent them from doing it. But they have no authority and run the risk of, depending on what action they take, getting themselves in trouble," said Lt. Col. George Bivens.

Chester County resident joins search for escaped murder convict

Timeline of Cavalcante's escape

Investigators say it took an hour for Cavalcante to be reported missing when he failed to report back from recreation time.

The following timeline was released by Acting Warden Howard Holland:

8:33 a.m.: Cavalcante's block entered the exercise yard

8:51 a.m.: Cavalcante escapes from the prison by crab-walking up a wall, pushing his way through razor wire, running across the roof and pushing his way through more razor wire

9:35 a.m.: Cavalcante's block returns to the unit from the yard

9:45 a.m.: Officers on Cavalcante's block notify central control of a missing inmate

9:48 a.m.: Officers inform central control that Cavalcante was missing. There was a belief he was in a phone visiting room but he was not there

9:50 a.m.: The prison was locked down and a special count was conducted

10:01 a.m.: The public escape siren was sounded and the 911 center was notified

Latest sightings of Cavalcante

Cavalcante has been spotted several times this week at Longwood Gardens.

SEE ALSO: Escaped inmate caught on trail cam at Philly-area botanical garden; schools closed amid manhunt

On Tuesday night, state police say there was a sighting of Cavalcante by a resident in the area of Chandler Road in Pennsbury Township. Bivens said Wednesday that teams searched for hours but were unable to locate him.

Cavalcante was also spotted on video around 1:43 a.m. on September 2, on the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson Township. It's about 1.5 miles from the prison.

Police say Cavalcante was also spotted the next day from a distance by a state trooper who gave chase but lost him.

And hours before that, Ryan Drummond claims he saw Cavalcante inside his home on Friday night around 11:45 p.m. Police arrived but the man escaped back into the thick wood and brush after taking some food.

These images of escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante were captured from a camera on the property of Longwood Gardens on the night of September 4, 2023.

Targeted search area

Police have expanded the perimeter in the search for Cavalcante.

The borders of the current search are Route 1 east to Parkersville Road, north to Route 52 to Lenape Unionville Road, west to Northbrook Road, Northbrook Road south to Rt. 926, and west to North Walnut Road.

What does Danelo Cavalcante look like?

Cavalcante is five feet tall and weighs 120 pounds with long, shaggy black curly hair and brown eyes. He is a Brazilian man who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and some English.

What was Cavalcante convicted of?

Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder on Aug. 16 for fatally stabbing his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, 38 times in front of her two young children in Schuylkill Township in 2021.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole last week for the fatal stabbing and was set to be transferred to a state correctional institution in four weeks.

Prosecutors say he killed his girlfriend to stop her from telling police about the charges against him in Brazil. He was captured in Virginia after Brandao's killing and authorities believe he was trying to return to his home country.

How residents can help

Residents are being asked to secure their property, check on neighbors and keep an eye on security cameras. Call police if you see anything suspicious.

How to report Cavalcante info to police

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the U.S. Marshals' Tipline at 877-WANTED-2. There is a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to Cavalcante's capture.

Convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante escaped the Chester County Prison in Pocopson Township, Pennsylvania.