Search for escaped murderer prompts Pennsylvania school closures after mother’s surrender message

Unusual tactics are being deployed to help find murderer Danelo Cavalcante in Pennsylvania

Amelia Neath
Tuesday 05 September 2023 15:25 BST
Tension remain high as search for escaped killer continues

Pennsylvania police have shuttered local schools “out of abundance of caution” as the search for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante enters its sixth day.

In a memo sent to parents, the Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County said that schools across the district would be closed on Tuesday as the “search situation” to find the convicted killer has now changed.

“We were informed early this morning by law enforcement that the search situation has evolved and out of an abundance of caution, schools and offices will be closed today,” Superintendent Dr Dusty Blakey said in the letter.

“We understand that situations like these can be unsettling. The safety and security of our KCSD community remains our top priority. We are committed to taking all necessary precautions and measures to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

The Spt urged the community to stay informed about the situation which continues to rapidly evolve.

In a press conference on Tuesday morning, officials said that Cavalcante had been caught on a trail camera on Monday night managing to escape the two-mile radius which had been surrounded by law enforcement.

The escaped murderer was captured on the trail camera at Longwood Gardens in East Marlborough Township, Chester County, at 8.21pm travelling one direction.

He was then spotted coming past the camera again at 9.33pm local time.

As a result, police have now shifted and expanded the police parimeter and shuttered nearby schools.

The images show that Cavalcante has obtained a backpack and a hooded sweatshirt during his escape.

Members of the public were urged to secure their homes, outbuildings and vehicles and to contact police if they spot the killer.

Danelo Cavalcante captured in image (PA State Trooper and Chester County District Attorney)

The latest sighting comes hours after authorities broadcast a message from the killer’s mother into the wooded area where was believed to be holed up.

Cavalcante, 34, escaped from Chester County Prison on Thursday days after he was sentenced to life without parole for stabbing his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandão to death.

The killer attacked Brandão in Schuylkill Township, back in August 2021, in front of her two children, who were just seven and three years old.

He is also wanted for a murder in 2017 in Brazil.

Following his prison escape and huge manhunt to find him, the search has been reduced down to a two-mile radius of a heavily wooded area in Pocopsen Township, Chester County, where Cavalcante is believed to be currently hiding.

On Monday, law enforcement resorted to a new tactic of blasting a message from his mother, speaking in Portuguese, into his hiding place from police helicopters and patrol cars.

Robert Clark, supervisory deputy US Marshal for the Easter District of Pennsylvania spoke at a conference on Monday afternoon, explaining why these tactics were being deployed.

“As desperate as he is, maybe he has a change of thought and hears his mother telling him to surrender, and his family cares about him,” Mr Clark said.

“Perhaps this is what puts him over the edge where we can get a peaceful surrender.”

While Mr Clark did not confirm the exact wording of the message to Cavalcante, he said that that the killer’s mother was urging him to turn himself into authorities.

Danelo Cavalcante in mug shot (Chester County Prison)

“She’s just encouraging that his family loves him, and that she wants him to surrender. And that’s what our hope is as well,” he said.

The new tactic comes as District Attorney Deb Ryan announced in a press briefing on Monday that the Pennsylvania State Police were taking over the investigation and search for Cavalcante.

“The goal right now is to find and capture this dangerous fugitive. We are doing everything in our power to get this guy,” said DA Ryan.

Since the manhunt started, there have been four credible sightings of the escaped inmate.

Cavalcante has been seen at the intersection of Routes 926 and 52, north on Route 52 to Parkersville Road, southeast to Route 926 and west to the intersection of Routes 926 and 52 in Pocopson Township, police said.

There have also been two reported burglaries in the area that police have investigated, but these are not currently confirmed to be linked to the escaped prisoner.

However, Lt Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said on Monday that the incidents “are of interest to us”.

Lt Col Bivens was the last person to spot Cavalcante on Sunday afternoon.

From now on, he said authorities plan to use “stress” tactics, such as sharing his mother’s message, to help find him.

“I intend to stress him. I want to push him hard. He’ll make mistakes,” he said. “He’ll show himself. He’s already shown himself, we believe, a few times.”

Chester County Prison, where Mr Cavalcante escaped from after being served a life sentence

Cavalcante is described as a 5 foot Brazilian man with light complexion, shaggy, black curly hair and brown eyes. After his escape, he was seen wearing a light-coloured shirt, pants, and white sneakers. He was also carrying a backpack, but police said they are unsure when or where he obtained the bag.

Law enforcement teams, including the US Marshals, SWAT, local, state, and other federal agencies, have joined the search to find him.

Authorities are also offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to Cavalcante’s arrest.

The public is urged not to approach Cavalcante if they see him, as he is considered dangerous.

His escape comes after another prisoner escaped from Chester County prison earlier this year.

“The prison is very aware of whatever vulnerabilities they had, and they have made efforts to correct those vulnerabilities,” the district attorney said.

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