Search area widened in hunt for escaped murderer

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

A still from a video shared by authorities showing Danelo Cavalcante climbing up the wall during his escape last week.

After a week on the loose, authorities appear to be no closer to apprehending Danelo Cavalcante — a convicted murderer who escaped from Chester County Prison last Thursday, closing schools, roads and disrupting life for residents around southern Chester County.

At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Pennsylvania State Police officials revealed that the search perimeter has expanded after a resident reported seeing Cavalcante in Pennsbury, while prison officials revealed how he escaped from the prison — including showing a video of the escape. Wednesday saw another day where both the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District and Kennett Consolidated School District closed due to the ongoing search.

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said the search area has expanded from the area between the prison along Rt. 52 to Rt. 926 to a much larger area bounded in the east by Creek Road, Hillendale Rd. to the south, Rt. 926 to the north and Rt 52 to the west. This comes after a resident sighting of Cavalcante in Pennsbury, south and east of the area where authorities thought that they him surrounded.

More local, county, state and federal law enforcement assets continue to join the hunt — as Cavalcante has evaded capture for nearly a week. Crimestoppers has doubled the reward for information leading to his arrest — from $10,000 to $20,000 — and an increased mix of personnel, animals, and tech are being brought to bear to him the fugitive. While noting that such search can take hours, day, weeks or even months, Bivens said the search would continue until Cavalcante is found.

“We’re committed to the search,” Bivens said. “And we will find him and we will bring him back into the criminal justice system.”

While the hunt continues, questions about how Cavalcante escaped — just months after another inmate escaped in May — dominated the press event, with acting Warden Howard Holland revealing that Cavalcante used much the same method to escape as Igor Bolte, who was apprehended within minutes.

Despite upgrades to the walls surrounding the outdoor recreation yard — additional razor wire was added to the roof area — Cavalcante managed to shimmy up the walls, elude the razor wire and barbed wire and fled across the roof of an adjacent building, jumping to the ground outside of the fencing. The big difference, Holland said, was that in May, the observation tower saw the escape in progress, while last week’s escape was not seen.

According to Holland’s timeline, Cavalcante escaped at 8:53, but his absence was not realized until 9:45 a.m. The prison went into lockdown at 9:50 a.m. and the emergency siren was sounded at 10:01 a.m. Holland said that additional facility changes — and likely some staffing changes will be made to address the security issues at the prison.

While there is an ongoing investigation into how Cavalcante escaped by the state Attorney General’s Office, the search for the fugitive continues.

Authorities expanded the search area after a Pennsbury resident on Chandler Road called 911, saying they’d seen Cavalcante headed toward a nearby stream. Police searched the immediate area, but did not find him or any evidence of him.

Bivens noted that the conditions remain difficult — both for searchers and Cavalcante — because of the high heat and humidity. He said one of the K9 search dogs suffered from overheating and was hospitalized, although he is improving, Bivens said. Bivens said he has an idea of where Cavalcante is heaed, but declined to share it so as not to give that information to the fugitive.

Bivens also expressed thanks to all of the people and groups who have stopped by the command center and dropped off water and food or offered support and best wishes, saying that it was greatly appreciated.

Cavalcante was convicted of the 2021 killing his girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her two young children. He was sentenced last month to life in prison.

Anyone seeing Cavalcante is advised to call 911. Anyone with information about his whereabouts can also call 717-562-2987.


   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment