(CTN NEWS) – The escaped murderer, who broke free from an eastern Pennsylvania prison just last week, has been sighted on at least eight occasions, as confirmed by authorities on Thursday.
However, he continues to evade capture, as search teams grapple with extreme heat, high humidity, and challenging terrain.
Danelo Cavalcante was observed by a resident in a creek bed on Tuesday night but managed to elude the police by fleeing into the nearby woods.
This sighting occurred in the vicinity of Chandler Road, located approximately 2.5 miles southeast of Chester County Prison.
Despite extensive efforts, search teams were unable to pinpoint his whereabouts, according to Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens.
On Thursday evening, law enforcement was actively investigating a specific area of interest within Longwood Gardens, a popular botanical garden situated nearly three miles away from the prison.
As a precautionary measure, the property was evacuated of its guests while the garden’s staff remained in secure locations. The spokesperson for Longwood Gardens informed CNN that the site will remain closed until further notice.
Ongoing Search for Escaped Inmate in Pennsylvania Expands Amidst New Sightings
Pennsylvania State Trooper James McKee informed CNN that authorities have expanded their search perimeter but have not issued a new reverse 911 call to alert residents to any potential danger.
At around 6:30 p.m., CNN observed a flurry of police activity in the vicinity of Longwood Gardens. State troopers were swiftly closing off roads that had previously remained open earlier in the day.
There were reports of a possible sighting of Cavalcante just before noon on Thursday in the Longwood Gardens area, where he had been captured on security cameras earlier in the week, as stated by Bivens during a news conference earlier on Thursday.
An individual reported seeing someone resembling the escapee running through the area, prompting search teams to converge on the location.
Pennsylvania State Police confirmed another sighting of Cavalcante on Thursday evening but did not disclose specific details regarding the location or timing of this sighting.
Cavalcante has been on the run since August 31 when he escaped from Chester County Prison in a rural area approximately 30 miles west of Philadelphia.
As the search for him enters its eighth day on Thursday, county residents have been understandably alarmed, having been cautioned about his extreme danger.
Escaped Inmate Still at Large as Authorities Increase Reward and Investigate Security Lapses
Authorities have also increased the reward to $20,000 for any information that leads to the capture of Cavalcante. They believe he is still within the search perimeter, which spans approximately eight to 10 square miles, as indicated by Bivens.
“We have maintained a secure perimeter as best as possible, and we received another reported sighting today,” he mentioned in reference to Thursday’s potential sighting.
The ongoing search has raised questions about how Cavalcante managed to escape from the prison, particularly following revelations that another inmate had employed a similar strategy to escape just months earlier.
Surveillance video captured the escape, showing Cavalcante “crab walking” between two walls in an exercise yard, with his hands on one wall and his feet on another, allowing him to shimmy out of view.
The prison’s acting warden, Howard Holland, revealed this during a press conference on Wednesday.
Following his escape from the exercise yard, Cavalcante ran across a roof, scaled another fence, and navigated through additional razor wire, as explained by Holland.
Notably, none of the personnel responsible for monitoring the prison’s 160 cameras witnessed the escape in progress, and a guard in a tower overseeing the inmates did not observe Cavalcante slipping away.
The guard in the tower is currently on administrative leave while an investigation into their actions is ongoing.
Cavalcante, aged 34, was convicted of first-degree murder on August 16, 2021, for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend, 33-year-old Deborah Brandão, in Chester County.
Since his daring escape, Brandão’s sister, who resides in the area, has expressed constant fear regarding what he might do to her or her sister’s two children, for whom she is responsible.
Furthermore, Cavalcante is a wanted individual in a 2017 homicide case in Brazil, his country of origin, as confirmed by a US Marshals Service official.
The extensive manhunt has mobilized a significant number of law enforcement personnel and search dogs. Regrettably, one of these canine units endured challenging conditions in sweltering 90-degree heat and is presently undergoing medical treatment, as highlighted by Bivens.
Bivens also emphasized the numerous factors that can impact the effectiveness of search dogs, including weather conditions, terrain characteristics, and the fugitive’s clothing, all of which can influence the dog’s ability to stay on a scent and navigate challenging landscapes.
Indications of Cavalcante’s Presence Emerge Amidst Ongoing Manhunt
Nonetheless, authorities have detected signs of Cavalcante’s presence in the vicinity.
According to Bevins, law enforcement encountered Cavalcante’s footprints, and there have been additional indications suggesting that he has traversed specific areas. However, no tangible items or belongings left behind by Cavalcante have been recovered.
Cavalcante has been captured on surveillance video at least twice, as confirmed by authorities.
One recording placed him approximately 1.5 miles from the prison early Saturday, while another security camera captured him on Monday at a botanical gardens property situated nearly 3 miles away from the correctional facility.
A resident of Pocopson Township, where the prison is located, reported witnessing Cavalcante inside his home on Friday, where he took food before departing, as reported by CNN affiliate WPVI.
Additionally, a state trooper also reported a sighting of Cavalcante in the area, as disclosed by Bivens on Monday.
With Cavalcante still at large, local law enforcement has issued advisories to residents, urging them to ensure that their doors and vehicles are securely locked.
Furthermore, two area school districts have canceled classes for at least part of this week due to concerns about the ongoing situation.
While the search for Cavalcante has persisted for over a week, it’s worth noting that another inmate managed to escape from the same prison in May and was swiftly apprehended, according to authorities.
Igor Bolte executed his escape on May 19 by climbing onto the prison roof and descending to a less secure area, as indicated by court documents obtained by CNN.
Bolte explained to the police that he scaled a wall in an exercise area by strategically positioning his legs against one wall and his arms on another, allowing him to pull himself onto the roof.
Remarkably, he was captured within minutes, located less than a mile away from the prison.
Investigation Planned to Uncover Possible Connection Between Escapees
Given these circumstances, authorities have expressed an intention to conduct an investigation to determine whether Cavalcante and Bolte had any prior knowledge of each other, potentially shedding light on their escapes from the same facility.
Earlier this week, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan announced that prison officials have taken proactive measures to bolster security in response to recent escape incidents.
Ryan emphasized, “The prison is acutely aware of its vulnerabilities and has taken significant steps to rectify these issues.” She made this statement on Monday.
According to county records, there was an approximately 100-inmate increase at Chester County Prison in July compared to the same month in 2022.
Acting Warden Holland, who oversees the prison, revealed on Wednesday that officials had initially relied on the presence of razor wire to prevent escapes.
However, he acknowledged, “One aspect we failed to consider was the human element. Our focus was primarily on the physical infrastructure and not necessarily on human factors.”
Holland also disclosed that additional security measures are currently being contemplated, including the possibility of assigning a guard to the yard as part of the ongoing efforts to enhance security within the facility.
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