CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (TCD) — A 2-week manhunt ended early Wednesday morning after Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies captured wanted felon Danelo Cavalcante by using thermal imaging and the “element of surprise.”
Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 at approximately 8:30 a.m. after he was sentenced to life behind bars for killing his ex-girlfriend. Cavalcante was also wanted in his home country of Brazil on homicide charges.
Video taken from Chester County Prison shows Cavalcante’s escape, which included crab-walking his way up a brick wall. He had to make his way past razor wire that had been recently added due to another prisoner’s escape from the same location in May.
Cavalcante had been spotted around Chester County and surrounding areas in the days following his prison break with an altered appearance. He got around using a stolen a white Ford Transit van that he nabbed from a dairy farm in West Chester on Sept. 9. He also took a rifle from someone’s garage two days later.
In a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 13, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said law enforcement agencies had been focusing on a perimeter in Chester County, and a “series of events began to unfold” late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
At around midnight, a burglar alarm went off at a home within the perimeter. Law enforcement officials went to the residence but did not find Cavalcante. Additional tactical teams searching nearby arrived on the scene and began looking for him there. About an hour later, aircraft picked up a heat signal and tracked the source, leading tactical teams to the area. A lightning storm, however, forced the aircraft to leave the area.
Tactical teams remained in the area until the storm passed. Bivens said teams “converged on the area where the heat source was.” According to Bivens, the teams “moved in quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that occurred.”
Cavalcante reportedly attempted to flee by crawling through underbrush and taking the stolen rifle with him. A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer released a search dog, and the dog “subdued” Cavalcante. Bivens said Cavalcante sustained a “minor bite wound.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said at the press conference no one was injured during the apprehension, which was a relief because officials were “deeply concerned after the suspect was able to steal a weapon.”
Cavalcante was taken into custody without any shots fired. Bivens said Cavalcante will be transported to a correctional institution for an interview and will begin serving his life sentence.
Bivens said, “I can assure you he will not escape while he is in our custody.”
Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said at the news briefing, “Our nightmare is finally over. The good guys won.”
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