Police: Escaped prisoner now armed; new sighting in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania

State police say troopers are authorized to use deadly force if Danelo Cavalcante isn't actively surrendering

By6abc Digital Staff WPVI logo
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Escaped murderer may be armed, sighting in northern Chester County
Authorities have swarmed an area of Chester County, Pennsylvania on Monday night after a new confirmed sighting of escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante, Action News has learned.

EAST PIKELAND TWP., Penn. -- Authorities have swarmed an area in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania on Monday night after another confirmed sighting of escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante, according to our sister station WPVI.

Cavalcante, 34, is believed to be on the run in South Coventry Township, and Pennsylvania State Police say he is now armed.

In a social media post just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, police said the escaped prisoner may be in the area of Ridge Road, Coventryville Road, and Daisy Point Road.

Sources say the convict was first spotted on the 1900 block of Fairview Road on Monday night within a search perimeter near Route 100 and Prizer Road in South Coventry Township.

A pair of shoes that are believed to be Cavalcante's were found, according to sources, and shortly after, investigators received reports of shots being fired.

WPVI has confirmed that a homeowner on the 3500 block of Coventryville Road in East Nantmeal Township shot at someone matching Cavalcante's description.

It's unclear if the individual was hit because no blood was found at the scene, but sources believe the person was the convicted killer and gained access to a weapon.

Residents in East Nantmeal and South Coventry townships are asked to lock all external doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors.

The inmate has been on the run since he broke out of the Chester County Prison on August 31.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the police tip line at 717-562-2987.

'I believe he is still in Chester County'

Cavalcante slipped out of the original search area over the weekend, changed his appearance, stole a dairy delivery van and tried to contact acquaintances.

His attempts to contact acquaintances were unsuccessful, though he was recorded on doorbell video. The van has been recovered.

However, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said authorities remain concerned that Cavalcante will try to steal another vehicle.

During an afternoon news conference, Bivens also said there is no longer a defined search area, but said police were following up on information and tips from the public.

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

He said residents of East Nantmeal Twp., where the van was found, and other parts of northern Chester County may see an increased police presence as the search continues.

"Without information to the contrary, yes, I believe he is still in Chester County," Bivens said. "But, with that said, we will always consider other options."

Police announced Monday that the reward for information leading to Cavalcante's capture has grown to $25,000.

Bivens also gave a stern warning to anyone who may be helping Cavalcante evade police.

"We will prosecute you fully for those actions," he said. "Alternatively, I would suggest that if you are in a position to help facilitate the safe capture of Cavalcante, if you choose to assist us, you could be eligible for some or all of the reward that has been offered."

Deadly force authorized for Pa. state police

Lt. Col. George Bivens said state police are authorized to use deadly force if Cavalcante isn't actively surrendering.

Other agencies involved in the search may have their own rules, he noted.

Several law enforcement agencies put more stringent requirements in place for preauthorization of different levels of force in the wake of national protests and calls for policing reforms after the killing of George Floyd by police.

READ MORE | Victim's sister says Pa. fugitive transformed from kind neighbor into jealous, threatening boyfriend

The Pennsylvania State Police regulations republished in July outline specific scenarios where deadly force is justified including to prevent the escape of someone who has committed a violent felony such as murder and who could pose a threat to the community.

By preauthorizing the use of deadly force for troopers if Cavalcante does not surrender, State Police officials are eliminating a potential delay.

Bivens vowed to "aggressively continue" the search with the aid of federal, state, county and local resources and expressed confidence that the fugitive would eventually be recaptured.

"This is a minor setback," he said. "We'll get him, it's a matter of time."

Cavalcante caught on doorbell video

Police say Cavalcante tried to contact someone he had known and worked with several years earlier at 9:52 p.m. Saturday in East Pikeland Twp. However, that person was at dinner with his family and did not respond.

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

Cavalcante was recorded on a doorbell camera, and the homeowner contacted police around 12:30 a.m. after returning home, Bivens said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Images from that video show Cavalcante is clean-shaven and wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, green prison pants and white shoes, police said.

Cavalcante obtained the sweatshirt from the stolen van, police say. It's not known how he was able to shave.

READ MORE | Danelo Cavalcante escape: PA inmate escaped prison by climbing wall, over razor wire | Video

Police have also learned about a sighting of Cavalcante at the home of another former work associate at 10:07 p.m. Saturday.

That associate was not home, but police were called by the friend of a female resident who spotted him.

As for the stolen van, police say Cavalcante abandoned it in a field behind a barn in East Nantmeal Township after he apparently ran out of gas. It was found around 10:40 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators have been searching around that area since that time.

Bivens said the theft of the van was not noticed until police canvassed the area looking for a stolen vehicle. Police say Cavalcante was able to steal the van because the keys were left inside.

Police are now concerned he may try to steal another vehicle, so residents are being asked to secure their cars and property.

Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Prison while awaiting transfer to state prison on Aug. 31 after being sentenced to life for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend in 2021.

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

Prosecutors say he wanted to stop her from telling police that he's wanted in a killing in his home country of Brazil.

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.

Cavalcante's sister was also arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), police said, saying she was an overstay.

Schools announce new safety measures

As the search continues for the escaped murder convict, schools in Chester County are taking extra precautions to keep students and faculty safe.

The Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown says there will be an increased security presence on campus on Monday.

Officials also said they will not hold outside recess or gym classes.

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

The Phoenixville Area School District said classes will go on as usual, with no outdoor activities.

And the Kennett Consolidated School District says it will resume to normal operations on Monday.

Longwood Gardens set to reopen

Longwood Gardens set to reopen

Longwood Gardens officials say the popular attraction will reopen at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 13 following the latest developments in the search for Cavalcante.

The garden closed last Thursday due to several sightings of the escapee in the area.

Images of Cavalcante were captured on a trail camera Wednesday night and led to a flurry of activity by law enforcement officers.

After that, a message was sent out by garden officials ordering those on the property to shelter in place, and they announced the closure of the attraction.

According to the website, now that Cavalcante has moved further north, officials are ready to reopen.

How did Cavalcante slip through the perimeter?

With yet another community on alert after several sightings of Cavalcante, state police were pressed on how Cavalcante managed to breach that massive 400 officer perimeter near Longwood Gardens, steal a dairy van, abandon it, all before taking off again.

Bivens admitted during Sunday's news conference that Cavalcante slipped through their grasp, listing a number of factors including the terrain, tunnels and weather.

"I'm not going to make an excuse to you. I wish it had not happened. Unfortunately, there are a lot of circumstances. There are a lot of issues associated with that property," said Bivens.

Though it's not clear whether Cavalcante is being assisted in his escape, Col. Bivens had a stern warning for anyone attempting to help Cavalcante.

"They will be prosecuted vigorously if we can prove that they assisted him and the types of charges depends on the type of assistance, but we have the DA here and I don't want to speak for her, but I'm certain she is well prepared to prosecute anyone who assists in any way."

Authorities provide update on search for escaped murder convict (Sept. 10, 2023)

Cavalcante's former roommate speaks out

WPVI spoke with Cavalcante's former roommate, Franco, about previously living with the now convicted murderer.

Franco says he lived with Cavalcante for four months, and he moved out just one day before fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend.

He also said he never expected his former roommate to do something like this.

"Super quiet guy, working hard every day, leaving the house around 5 or 6 in the morning. Coming back around 7, 8, sometimes 10 p.m. He'd take a shower and go to bed, so I didn't see him much," said Franco. "Now I have anxiety because of this, and I was anxious again this week. I told my friends I haven't been sleeping well."

"I said 'Let me see if I can help somehow,' and I talked to police for an hour," he continued. "I just want him to be caught."

Cavalcante convicted of killing former girlfriend

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

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.