Danelo Cavalcante’s escape from Pennsylvania prison captured in newly released video

The manhunt for Cavalcante entered its seventh day on Wednesday

Andrea Blanco
Wednesday 06 September 2023 22:19 BST
CCTV footage shows Danelo Calvacante’s prison escape

Pennsylvania authorities have released footage of the moment murder convict Danelo Cavalcante escaped from prison.

At a press conference on Wednesday, state police said that Cavalcante managed to escape from Chester County Prison by jumping onto the facility’s roof from an exercise yard. Surveillance video shows Cavalcante crawling up a wall before he disappears from the frame.

Police said that he later managed to jump down to an area of the prison that had less surveillance. A tower officer tasked with observing the site failed to report the incident, and Cavalcante’s escape was only noticed later during a head count.

Pennsylvania State Lt Col George Bivens said that Cavalcante had some experience hiding and surviving in the woods from growing up in his native Brazil. However, Mr Biven said that he was confident the manhunt was “wearing Cavalcante down.”

“Despite the location, the background a person comes from. These are hot, humid temperatures. He has no regular means of obtaining food other than if he’s able to break in someplace or scavenge something,” Mr Bivens said. “So it’s a difficult experience ... that is going to definitely take its toll.”

Cavalcante began his escape at around 8.50am on 31 August, police said, while other inmates in the exercise yard played basketball. He stretched his body to fit the length of a hallway and climbed onto the roof.

It was only nearly an hour later that correction officers realised an inmate was missing during a head count.

The prison was locked at 9.50am and the 911 centre was notified of the escape 10 minutes later.

Chester County Prison acting warden Howard Holland said that Cavalcante’s jailbreak was similar to another inmate’s escape back in May. During that incident, a tower officer immediately reported the situation to prison staff and the inmate was apprehended within minutes.

Surveillance video of Cavalcante escaping from Chester County Prison was released on Wednesday
Surveillance video of Cavalcante escaping from Chester County Prison was released on Wednesday (6abc Philadelphia)

“While we believed that the security measures we had in place were sufficient, they have proven otherwise,” Mr Holland said. “And we will work to enhance our security ... One key difference in [this] escape is the role of the tower officer whose primary responsibility is to oversee the inmate in the exercise yard.”

The state’s attorney’s office is now investigating the jailbreak. Mr Holland said that the actions of the tower officer, who is on administrative leave, are part of the probe and that appropriate action will be taken against personnel based on the results of the investigation.

Cavalcante was last spotted near Chandler Road in Pennsbury Township on Tuesday evening. Local and federal law enforcement agencies searched the area for hours but were not able to locate Cavalcante.

Mr Bivens said that search units were experiencing challenges while canvassing the vast wooded area where Cavalcante is believed to be hiding. A K-9 unit had to be hospitalised on Tuesday, Mr Bivens said, after suffering a heat-related medical incident.

“I don’t think he has more ability than we initially gave him credit for, I think it’s a very challenging area,” Mr Bivens said. “We have had some searches like this in the past ... some take hours, some take days, some take months.”

This photo provided by the Chester County Prison shows Danelo Cavalcante. Cavalcante, convicted this month of fatally stabbing his former girlfriend
This photo provided by the Chester County Prison shows Danelo Cavalcante. Cavalcante, convicted this month of fatally stabbing his former girlfriend

The sighting also prompted authorities to expand the search perimeter for the second day in a row.

“We continue to ask for the public’s help by familiarising themselves with a photograph and description of Cavalcante, to check security cameras they have and to call us immediately if they believe they’ve seen Cavalcante,” Mr Bivens said.

The Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers have offered $10,000 for information that leads to Cavalcante’s capture, bringing the reward total to $20,000.

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

Cavalcante was sentenced to life without parole for stabbing his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandão to death. He 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 2017 murder in Brazil.

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