Convicted killer and escaped fugitive Danelo Cavalcante was apprehended on Wednesday morning after evading capture for two weeks. The manhunt for Cavalcante came to an end when a K-9 officer discovered him hiding in the Pennsylvania woods. Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police confirmed that Cavalcante was found lying flat under a pile of leaves and wood. He was apprehended without incident and was found to be wearing a gray Philadelphia Eagles hoodie, which was later cut off to check for weapons and confirm his identity.
Cavalcante, who escaped from Chester County Prison on August 31, had been on the run, breaking into suburban homes for food and hiding out in the wilderness. Additional charges are pending as discussions with the district attorney's office are ongoing. The fugitive attempted to avoid capture by crawling on his stomach with a rifle, but was bitten by the K-9 and arrested before he had a chance to fire a shot at the tactical team of officers from Border Patrol and the state police.
The rifle that Cavalcante possessed is believed to be the same .22 that he stole from a homeowner during a confrontation in South Coventry Township on Monday night. He had successfully evaded search teams by remaining hidden until a DEA aircraft detected a heat signature in the wooded underbrush. Due to lightning, the aircraft was forced to land, giving the tactical unit on the ground an opportunity to close in on Cavalcante's location.
The prisoner was finally apprehended west of PA 100 and north of Prizer Road, where police had been alerted to a burglar alarm the previous night. Lt. Col. Bivens stated that Cavalcante was taken by surprise and appeared to be unaware that he was surrounded. After his arrest, Cavalcante was seen with blood on his face, which was a result of a minor scalp wound from the K-9 bite.
Following the arrest, Cavalcante was taken to the Avondale State Police Barracks, where he will be processed and examined. Authorities anticipate conducting an interview with him, likely with the assistance of an interpreter. Lt. Col. Bivens described Cavalcante as desperate rather than skilled, suggesting that he was aided by individuals who intended to assist him. One of these individuals was his sister, who is currently in custody with immigration.
Although there was some backlash regarding a post-manhunt photo op of the SWAT team with Cavalcante, Lt. Col. Bivens defended it, stating that the officers had worked hard and deserved to be proud of their work. Governor Josh Shapiro also praised the efforts of law enforcement and the Chester County community, describing it as an extraordinary collaboration.
Cavalcante, originally from Brazil, had been sentenced to life without parole for the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend in April 2021. His escape occurred while he was awaiting transfer to a state prison. News of his capture brought relief to the victim's family, who were among the first to be notified. The nightmare for the Chester County community, with a population of less than 540,000, is finally over, according to District Attorney Deb Ryan.
The manhunt for Cavalcante involved the use of innovative technology and various strategies, including a broadcast message from his mother pleading for him to surrender. Throughout the search, schools were closed, residents were urged to lock their doors, and roads were blocked. The capture of Cavalcante also led to the firing of an unidentified correctional officer who was on duty at the observation tower when the escape occurred.
Authorities had offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to Cavalcante's capture. His escape and subsequent capture garnered attention both locally and internationally. Cavalcante's escape was widely covered in Brazil, where he is also wanted in connection with another killing. The fugitive's capture brings an end to a tense and sleepless period for the residents of southeastern Pennsylvania.
themes: Philadelphia Pennsylvania