Residents of the suburban Pennsylvania county where a full-scale manhunt is underway for an escaped inmate have said they can’t understand why it has taken authorities so long to capture the “extremely dangerous” killer.
The manhunt for convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante entered its eighth day on Thursday as several law enforcement agencies, including the US Marshals, SWAT, and local and state police, continue searching a vast wooded area in Chester County where he is believed to be hiding.
The initial search perimeter set up following Cavalcante’s escape from the county’s prison on 31 August had to be expanded yet again on Tuesday after the fugitive was spotted in a creek bed in Pennsbury Township. Cavalcante is now thought to be somewhere near routes 926 and 52, Hillendale Road and Creek Road.
Residents of Pocopson and Pennsbury townships have voiced fears that Cavalcante, who was recently sentenced to life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, could break into their homes. A West Chester resident previously said the fugitive, described by authorities as “extremely dangerous,” gained access to his home in the middle of the night and stole food and supplies.
Jennifer Briggs, who lives about a mile and a half from Chester County Prison, told CNN that the past week has been unsettling. Ms Briggs said that her children, who are attending classes virtually after their school was shuttered over the manhunt, are sleeping in the same bedroom with her.
“Anytime you would leave, they were searching your car to make sure he wasn’t in the car,” Ms Briggs recounted. “I had my kids in the car with me, so that was probably the most unsettling moment.”
Aimee Young-Wilson owns a salon just a mile away from the botanical garden where Cavalcante was spotted on Sunday. Ms Young-Wilson said her clients had continued coming in as usual, but noted that the community was scared.
“It’s very crazy ... I just don’t understand how someone stays on the run for this long,” Ms Young-Wilson told CNN. “Everyone is just worried because he’s here, he’s dangerous and there’s a lot of elderly folks that live around the area ... But we can’t shut down. We can’t stop living our life.”
Another business owner told the network that she had encouraged her employers to stay aware of their surroundings and check on each other.
“We’re letting our younger workers and women park close to the building and not toward the back of the lot, so the security camera can watch,” restaurant manager Nancy Sanchez said. “We have lighting, so they are not scared. A lot of our servers are high schoolers and girls. We have one of the chefs watch as we leave.”
Cavalcante managed to break out of prison using an unconventional method, according to officials, which involved “crab-walking” up a wall, pushing through razor wire and making a dash across a roof.
He was sentenced to life without parole for stabbing his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandão to death. Cavalcante attacked Brandão in Schuylkill Township, back in August 2021, in front of her two children, who were just seven and three years old.
The Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers have offered $10,000 for information that leads to Cavalcante’s capture, bringing the reward total to $20,000.