Officials in Chester County, Pennsylvania, said Saturday afternoon they believe a man convicted of murdering his girlfriend is within two miles of the state prison where he escaped on Thursday, while residents in the area have been asked to shelter inside and keep their doors locked.
Deb Ryan, the district attorney of Chester County—20 miles west of Philadelphia—confirmed in a press conference that escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante was last seen on a residential Ring doorbell camera just before 2 a.m. in a wooded area in Pocopson Township.
Cavalcante, 34, was spotted within one-to-two miles from the Chester State Prison in a local residence where officials believe he may still be hiding, Ryan said.
Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life in prison last month on a first-degree murder charge, is five feet tall and was seen wearing shorts, a white T-shirt, white sneakers and a backpack, which he wore over prison-issued clothing.
Local police responded to more than 100 tips from residents in the area, including some alleging Cavalcante committed a burglary since his escape, and one report from a resident who claimed they spotted him sporting a backpack just before midnight on Friday.
Ryan asked residents in the area to report anything “remotely suspicious,” as well as any photos or videos they may have, including from Ring cameras, asking residents to “remain inside, lock your doors and lock your cars.”
A jury in Pennsylvania convicted Cavalcante, 34, on a first-degree murder charge on August 16 for stabbing his then girlfriend of two years, Deborah Brandao, to death. He was sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors said he carried out the act in front of her children in 2021, using a kitchen knife he took from a barbecue he had attended that day. Prosecutors also said Cavalcante, who was born in Brazil, killed Brandao after she threatened to inform police that Cavalcante had also been wanted for murder in Brazil.
Multiple businesses in the area have also shut down temporarily as a precaution while the search for Cavalcante continues. Longwood Gardens, a park just south of the area where police say Cavalcante was spotted, announced it would shut down “until further notice,” while the Brandywine Museum of Art nearby advised guests to avoid walking its trails, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. West Chester University also canceled its classes on Friday.
What We Don’t Know
How Cavalcante escaped prison Thursday morning. Cavalcante had been slated for a transfer to a state correctional facility where he was set to serve his life sentence.
Surveillance video of murderer who escaped from the Chester County Prison released; Danelo Cavalcante was sighted in Pocopson Township (Philadelphia Inquirer)