Danelo Cavalcante evaded capture for two weeks on run by burying his faeces and surviving on watermelon

US Marshall said the escaped convict was ‘brutally honest’ when interrogated about his life on the run

Amelia Neath
Thursday 14 September 2023 11:02 BST
Chris Cuomo speaks with US Marshall who conducted Danelo Cavalcante capture

Escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante has revealed that he managed to evade capture for two weeks on the run by burying his own faeces and surviving on watermelon.

Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania back on 31 August after he was handed a life sentence for murdering his former girlfriend.

It was not until almost two weeks later – on the morning of 13 September – that the escaped prisoner was finally back in handcuffs, after he was captured by a tactical team and police K-9 in a wooded area.

Since his capture, investigators have now revealed that Cavalcante complied with their questions and told them various details about his time on the run from the police.

Supervisory Deputy US Marshall Robert Clark, who conducted the manhunt that eventually led to his capture, spoke to NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo about the aftermath of his arrest.

Mr Clark said that the fugitive was “brutally honest” about his two weeks evading capture from law enforcement and the measures he went to to survive and stay hidden.

Various investigators, from US Marshalls, PA State police to county police, all wanted to interview him, but were unsure what to expect, he said.

“We took a Brazilian law enforcement interpreter, and we asked if he wanted to talk and he did,” Mr Clark told NewsNation, saying that by Cavalcante agreeing, they were able to fill in the gaps in their investigation.

According to Mr Clark, the fugitive said that, within the first three days, he didn’t move far from Chester County Prison.

After that, Cavalcante said that he ate watermelon he stole from a farm, drank water from a stream and hid within dense thickets where, unless someone stepped on him, he would be able to remain hidden from sight.

Danelo Cavalcante in new mug shot
Danelo Cavalcante in new mug shot (Getty)

To cover his tracks, he would hide his faeces under leaves.

There were several close calls with search teams, the fugitive also allegedly admitted.

“He did say on three occasions law enforcement officers did almost step on him. They were about seven to eight yards away from him,” Mr Clark said.

“We believe he was brutally honest. He described things such as hiding his faecal matter under leaves so that we couldn’t detect them.”

The officers even asked how Cavalcante managed to change his appearance by becoming clean-shaven while on the run, questioning whether someone had helped him.

His answer was simple: the backpack he was pictured with, held a single razor.

Danelo Cavalcante was ultimately captured by police K-9 Yoda, as he bit into his the top of head
Danelo Cavalcante was ultimately captured by police K-9 Yoda, as he bit into his the top of head (Border Patrol/ Chester County DA)

The investigators and Mr Clark found Cavalcante’s story “credible” and “candid,” as he went into detail about how he moved out of the first perimeter by scoping out an area he could escape across. Cavalcante told officials that he noticed more and more of a law enforcement presence and became aware of aerial assets and helicopters.

He apparently also told investigators about the vehicle he stole on 10 September, that police found abandoned in a field behind a barn 15 miles outside of Phoenixville.

He also spoke about the stolen firearm, which he obtained after breaking into a resident’s garage, Mr Clark said.

Had he not been captured – with the help of a K-9 that bit him on the top of his head – Cavalcante planned to flee the country.

“He intended to carjack somebody in the community and head north to Canada, or either or try to get back to Puerto Rico. He said he was going to do that in the next 24 hours. And that was the reason he kept that firearm. He knew he needed a weapon in order to get a vehicle,” Mr Clark said.

Officers take a group photo with captured Danelo Cavalcante
Officers take a group photo with captured Danelo Cavalcante (CBS NEWS Philadelphia KYW-TV)

Cavalcante also told law enforcement that Mexico was on the list of possible places he may have fled to, according to Steve Keeley from Fox 29.

“Cavalcante said his endgame was to carjack someone in next day because he noticed increasing aerial search helicopters & airplanes… He only moved at night, no days,” Mr Keeley said on X.

Mr Keeley’s source also matched what Mr Clark said about the fugitive conducting his own surveillance during his escape, both of the perimeter around Longwood Gardens and on the house where he stole the firearm from.

Mr Clark said his US Marshall colleagues described Cavalcante during the interview as “calm, cool, [and] didn’t have any attitude to him”.

Cavalcante was finally caught when Pennsylvania officials closed in on him on Wednesday morning.

He was crawling through heavy underbush trying to get away, but was stopped by a four-year-old K-9 called Yoda, who was dispatched to grab hold of him by biting him on his head.

After he was captured, a large group of officers took a group photo with the criminal now back in handcuffs, something they have since come under fire for.

Cavalcante was serving a life sentence in prison for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfiend Deborah Brandao. He is also wanted for a murder he committed in 2017 in Brazil.

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