Danelo Cavalcante escape: Murder convict changes appearance; stolen van recovered, sources say

Cavalcante was initially spotted near Phoenixville Saturday night, but has since left the area, Pennsylvania police said

By6abc Digital Staff WPVI logo
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante spotted near Phoenixville, has changed appearance
Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante spotted near Phoenixville, has changed appearance

EAST PIKELAND TWP., Pennsylvania -- Pennsylvania state police say the search area for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante has shifted yet again.

In a statement posted online, troopers say new leads have emerged that indicate Cavalcante is no longer in the Phoenixville area.

"To those residents in the area of Phoenixville, you may no longer see a large law enforcement presence in your area," the statement reads.

There was no indication from police as to where Cavalcante may be now.

Meanwhile, sources tell Action News that police have located the white van that Cavalcante apparently stole last night and drive to the northern part of Chester County, some 20 miles from the previous search area.


Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante was spotted Saturday night near Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania state police say.

Images of Cavalcante were captured on a doorbell camera in East Pikeland Twp., more than 20 miles north of the previous sightings around Longwood Gardens.

New photos released by police on Sunday morning show Cavalcante is now clean-shaven. He was seen wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball-style hat, green prison pants, and white shoes.

These images captured by a doorbell camera shows Danelo Cavalcante on the night of Sept. 9, 2023 in East Pikeland Twp., Pennsylvania
Pa. State Police
These images captured by a doorbell camera shows Danelo Cavalcante on the night of Sept. 9, 2023 in East Pikeland Twp., Pennsylvania
Pa. State Police

In addition, police say there was a reported sighting of him overnight at Zion Lutheran Church on Bonnie Brae Road near Spring City.

Meanwhile, investigators believe Cavalcante is operating a white 2020 Ford Transit van bearing Pennsylvania license plate ZST-8818. The van has a refrigeration unit on the top and was reported stolen by Baily's Dairy.

A photo released by U.S. Marshals shows that the van also has damage to the rear driver's side bumper.

That dairy is located on Lenape Unionville Road near West Chester. That's less than two miles, or a four minute drive, from the Chester County Prison from where Cavalcante escaped on Aug. 31.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the dairy said the van was stolen between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday while staffers were still at work.

"We really do not have any other information at this time, and are just as disappointed as everyone that he broke through the perimeter in Longwood," the post reads. "We appreciate the support of the community and continuing efforts of Law Enforcement."

Cavalcante has ties to Phoenixville and his victim has family there as well.

He is five feet tall and weighs 120 pounds. He is a Brazilian man who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and some English.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the police tip line at 717-562-2987. There is a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to Cavalcante's capture.

The sighting near Phoenixville is more than 20 miles from the previous search area near Longwood Gardens. Cavalcante was spotted twice within that search area on Friday, police said.

The search for Cavalcante is now in its eleventh day. He has eluded hundreds of law officers, including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, cops on horseback and from aircraft.

Cavalcante, 34, escaped by prison 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.

Stunning video shows how convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison

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.

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.

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.

The victim's sister, Sarah Brandao, told CNN last week 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 as 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.

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

Prison fires tower guard on duty when killer escaped

The Chester County Prison tower guard who did not see or report Cavalcante's escape 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.

Timeline of the day Cavalcante escaped

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

The following timeline of the day Cavalcante escaped was released by Acting Warden Howard Holland last week:

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