As the manhunt for a convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison enters its tenth day on Saturday, authorities conducting an intense 24-hour operation have now assigned nearly 400 officers to the search.
The number of reported sightings of Danelo Cavalcante in Chester County has increased since his escape from the county’s correctional facility on August 31. As a result, officials have assigned additional law enforcement personnel to search for him.
Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police told reporters on Friday, “We brought in more people last night,” adding that the reinforcements are from state police and other agencies. Multiple tactical teams are currently conducting searches.
Bivens, who is overseeing the massive search, gave an AWN crew and other reporters a tour of the command centre on Friday to demonstrate how authorities are operating.
Police displayed an interactive map of the perimeter where tactical teams, K-9 canines, and a helicopter are searching for Cavalcante. Outside the command centre were multiple mobile containers serving as additional space.
Bivens stated that law enforcement personnel typically work 12-hour shifts at the command centre, and sometimes even longer.
“I want the public to understand that it’s not a simple matter of having a single call taker in this office respond a tip line and dispatch a police car to investigate. There is a significant operation ongoing to capture him.” Bivens noted.
The glimpse behind the scenes coincides with multiple sightings of Cavalcante over the past week, with two confirmed sightings within the search area on Friday. A day earlier, someone observed Cavalcante just before noon at Longwood Gardens in Chester County. Cavalcante has been spotted in or around the gardens at least five times this week, approximately four miles from the penitentiary.
Cavalcante, 34, escaped from Chester County Prison by “crab walking” between two walls, climbing a fence, and traversing barbed wire one week prior.
The prison tower officer who was on duty at the time of the escape, which was captured on surveillance video, neither witnessed nor reported it. A source familiar with the decision informed AWN that he was fired Thursday after serving the prison for eighteen years.
“We can confirm that the corrections officer who was on duty when Danelo Cavalcante escaped was terminated yesterday afternoon,” a source said.
Even though some additional security measures had been implemented prior to Cavalcante’s escape, officials have stated that these enhancements did not account for human error.
The prisoner’s escape, which occurred approximately 50 kilometres west of Philadelphia, has frightened residents and the victim’s family.
Cavalcante was found guilty of first-degree murder last month for the slaying of his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend Deborah Brando in Chester County in 2021. According to authorities, Cavalcante allegedly stabbed Brando 38 times in front of her two children, who are now in the custody of Brando’s sister.
Cavalcante is sought in a 2017 homicide case in his native Brazil, according to a US Marshals Service official.
Multiple occurrences without capturing
Bivens stated that there have been multiple credible sightings of Cavalcante as of Saturday. And as the search enters its tenth day, authorities remain confident that they will recapture Cavalcante.
“I intend to exert pressure on him in an effort to contain and capture him. He will make an error. He’ll grow increasingly despondent. “He will have to expose himself,” said Bivens.
Ryan Drummond, a resident of Pocopson Township, described his “acute moment of terror” on the evening of September 1 after spotting Cavalcante in his residence.
Drummond reported hearing noises in his residence and observing that an old French door off the side of their deck was barely ajar.
“That’s when my stomach dropped,” he told Michael Smerconish of the AWN.
Drummond stated that he told his wife to contact 911 and witnessed Cavalcante “methodically walking” from the kitchen to the living room before exiting through the French door.
Here is what we know about a few sightings thus far:
- On August 31, Cavalcante’s escape from Chester County Prison is captured on video surveillance. Howard Holland, the prison’s acting superintendent, stated that the video showed him “crab-walking” between two walls in an exercise yard, with his hands on one wall and his feet on the other, before shimmying out of sight. Holland stated that Cavalcante then raced across a roof, scaled another fence, and made it through razor wire.
- On September 1, Drummond, a resident of the township where the prison is located, told WPVI that Cavalcante took food from his residence before leaving.
- On September 2, authorities reported that surveillance footage observed Cavalcante approximately 2.4 kilometres from the prison.
- On Monday, a security camera captured the fugitive in Longwood Gardens, according to authorities.
- On Tuesday, a local resident reported seeing Cavalcante in a creek bed on their property, according to Bivens.
- On Wednesday, a trail camera captured an image of Cavalcante in or near Longwood Gardens, but officials did not learn of this sighting until Thursday evening, according to Bivens.