Danelo Souza Cavalcante is a convicted murderer from Brazil who was in the United States illegally and is now the subject of a massive manhunt in Pennsylvania after he escaped from Chester County prison on August 31, 2023, according to Crime Stoppers and Pennsylvania State Police.
In the latest update on September 10, 2023, Pennsylvania State Police said in a news conference that Cavalcante was spotted in both Phoenixville and the East Pikeland area, and, that morning, a vehicle he stole was found abandoned in East Nantmeal, Pennsylvania, likely due to a lack of fuel. That news came after authorities thought they had Cavalcante cornered in a property called Longwood Gardens. They believe he is now stealing vehicles and making contact with former work associates to receive help, but he hasn’t gotten it.
“No perimeter is 100% secure ever,” said Lt. Colonel George Bivens, of Pennsylvania State Police in the press conference on September 10, 2023. There are tunnels and drainage ditches at Longwood Gardens, he said. He said authorities believe he has altered his appearance by shaving and acquiring a new hoodie by stealing it from a dairy farm.
“I wish he hadn’t been able to slip through there,” said Bivens. He said police are searching an area around East Nantmeal but are also working on leads that don’t require a perimeter to be secured. According to Bivens, Cavalcante’s sister was arrested by ICE, possibly for deportation.
“The Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 Reward for information leading to the apprehension of Danelo Souza Cavalcante,” Crime Stoppers says on its website.
“The Pennsylvania State Police Troop J and the Chester County Detectives are searching for 34-year-old Daniel Souza Cavalcante,” Crime Stoppers wrote. “He escaped the Chester County prison around 0830 hrs this morning, August 31, 2023. He was last seen wearing green pants or gray shorts and white tee shirt. Cavalcante had been convicted of homicide and was sentenced to life in prison. He is also wanted on homicide charges in his home country of Brazil.”
There have been multiple sightings of Cavalcante. On September 10, 2023, the Upper Providence Township Police Department wrote in a news release: “Escapee Danelo Cavalcante was believed to be seen in East Pikeland Township on a Ring camera within the past few hours. We have an increased police presence in Upper Providence Township. Please remain inside and lock your vehicles and homes. Check your surveillance devices, and call 911 to report any sightings of Cavalcante.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a Citizen of Brazil, Was Fleeing a 2017 Murder in Figueiropolis When He Illegally Entered the United States, Reports Say
According to the New York Times, Danelo Souza Cavalcante, 34, is a “citizen of Brazil.”
The Times reported that it’s not clear when or where he entered the United States illegally.
He was “fleeing a 2017 murder charge in Brazil,” the Times reported, describing that offense as “the slaying of a man in his small town of Figueiropolis in 2017.”
CBS News reported that Cavalcante “is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and speaks some English as well.”
The Times reported that questions have been raised as to why Cavalcante wasn’t deported after being convicted of homicide in the United States, but it’s not uncommon for deportation to not be triggered until a person serves their sentence here.
According to the Times, an ICE detainer was placed on Cavalcante when he was accused of murdering his girlfriend in the United States; ICE issued “78,829 detainers for noncitizens with criminal histories, including 1,751 for homicide-related offenses” in 2022, The Times reported.
2. Danelo Cavalcante, Who Was Convicted of Stabbing His Girlfriend 38 Times in the United States, Escaped By Doing a Crab-Like Walk, Video Shows
Authorities released a video showing how Cavalcante escaped from prison; he performed a “crab-like” maneuver to walk up the side of a wall and get onto the prison roof.
In a news conference, Chester County Prison’s acting warden Howard Holland said that Cavalcante made it up to the roof area after escaping from an exercise yard.
CBS News reported that he escaped while a basketball game was going on and despite multiple cameras.
According to BBC, Cavalcante “stabbed his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao to death in front of her two young children in April 2021.” He received a life prison sentence in the United States without parole for Brandao’s murder, BBC reported, adding that she was stabbed 38 times.
BBC reported authorities believe Cavalcante murdered Brandao because “she learned of his warrant back in Brazil and threatened to expose him,” adding that her terrified family is now under police protection.
3. Danelo Cavalcante Was Spotted Near Phoenixville & Was More Recently Spotted in the East Pikeland Area After Stealing a Transit Van Near a Police Perimeter, Police Say
In a press conference on September 10, 2023, Lt. Col. George Bivens with the Pennsylvania State Police, gave an update on recent sightings of Cavalcante. Early on September 10, a sighting in the East Pikeland area was reported.
He said that, during the evening of September 9, 2023, Cavalcante stole a transit van from an area less than a mile from the perimeter that police were maintaining around a Longwood Gardens property. The keys had been left in the van, and the theft was not noticed at first.
There was then a sighting in the East Pikeland area, Bivens said.
At 9:52 p.m., Cavalcante attempted to contact an individual he had known and worked with several years prior, speaking with the person via a video doorbell and requesting to meet with him, Bivens said. The homeowner was at dinner, did not meet with Cavalcante, and contacted police when he saw the video, according to Bivens.
Cavalcante is now clean-shaven and wearing a bright green hooded sweatshirt, he said. In Phoenixville, Cavalcante showed up at the home of another work acquaintance, who was not home. A woman who recognized him contacted police, Bivens said. At that time, he was using a white vehicle, said the police commander.
The latest vehicle was discovered abandoned in a field behind a barn at 10:40 a.m. in East Nantmeal, Bivens said.
The Pennsylvania state police have also posted updates in the Cavalcante escape to their X page. “To those residents in the area of Phoenixville, you may no longer see a large law enforcement presence in your area. Investigative leads have emerged that indicate Cavalcante is no longer in that area. Thank you for support,” they wrote on September 10, 2023.
In the early morning hours of September 10, police wrote on X, “Last night, Danelo Cavalcante was seen near Phoenixville in northern Chester Co. He is now clean shaven and wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, green prison pants, and white shoes. He is operating a white vehicle, of unknown make. Call 911 if spotted.”
Police noted, “Cavalcante is operating a 2020 White Ford Transit van bearing Pennsylvania registration ZST-8818. The van has a refrigeration unit on the top. Contact law enforcement if seen.”
On September 9, 2023, police wrote on X, “Search efforts for escapee Danelo Cavalcante continues this morning. There were two confirmed sightings of Cavalcante within the search area yesterday, September 8th. The search area now runs from Conservatory Rd. to State Route 52 and Street Rd. to Longwood Rd.”
On September 7, 2023, they thought incorrectly that they had him cornered, writing, “Authorities believe escapee Danelo Cavalcante is still within the perimeter of Routes 926 and 52, Hillendale Road and Creek Road. Call 911 immediately if seen or to report suspicious activity. Reward now totals up to $20,000 for tips leading to his capture.”
4. Police Released Photos They Said Show Danelo Cavalcante on a Trail Cam at Longwood Gardens
On September 5, 2023, Pennsylvania State Police released photos they say captured Cavalcante on a trail cam. That led to the establishment of the perimeter that he slipped through, police said.
“The search in Chester Co. for escapee Danelo Cavalcante continues this morning. These photos of him were captured on a trail-cam on the property of Longwood Gardens last night. We’re asking the public to call 911 if he’s spotted or to report any suspicious activity right away,” they wrote.
Cavalcante stands just 5 foot tall and weighs 120 pounds, according to a wanted poster released by police.
5. Authorities Believe Danelo Cavalcante Is Hiding During the Day & Say They Are ‘Trying to Stress Him Out’
According to CBS News, authorities believe that Cavalcante “is moving at night and hiding during the day,” and there are “large patches of wooded areas with thick underbrush that officers are forced to hack through” in the area.
“We are trying to stress him out, keep him on the move, squeeze him,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark told CBS. “This is what we do. His desperation will not outlast our dedication.”
Lt. Col. George Bivens with the Pennsylvania State Police said in a news conference that he believes Cavalcante is becoming “more desperate.”
“I believe he has always been very dangerous and I’ve said that from the start. He’s already murdered two people — one in Brazil and one here in a very brutal manner,” Bivens said during the press conference. “He’s a very dangerous individual and he remains so.”
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