A Pennsylvania man has opened up about the terrifying moment an escaped murder convict Danelo Cavalcante apparently broke into his home while his family was sleeping.
The manhunt for Cavalcante entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with at least five confirmed sightings of the fugitive since he escaped from Chester County Prison on 31 August.
Law enforcement initially set up a two-mile perimeter around a wooded area where Cavalcante was believed to be hiding, but the search was expanded after Cavalcante was caught on trail camera sneaking past the perimeter on Monday. Schools in the district have been closed, and authorities have urged residents to remain aware of their surroundings and secure their homes from the killer.
West Chester resident Ryan Drummond claimed in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that one of Cavalcante’s confirmed sightings occurred at his home. Mr Drummond said that he woke up to noises downstairs on 1 September and realised that there was an intruder.
“I decided not to confront him and thought it was a better move to flick the light switch,” Mr Drummond, whose wife and children were also in the home, told the Inquirer. “And he flicked it back at me, which was terrifying, so I told my wife to call 911.”
Mr Drummond said that Cavalcante entered the home through an old French door that couldn’t lock properly.
He said his nine-year-old daughter had raised fears about Cavalcante being able to gain access to the home through the door, but he tried to reassure her that the murder convict was likely far away.
“The last few days have been surreal. It’s tough,” Mr Drummond said. “We’re all jumpy, and I could see this has taken a psychological toll on my kids. If they’re in the room by themselves, they’re calling for us.”
Fortunately, Cavalcante left the Drummonds’ home after reportedly taking a backpack, a baseball cap and some fruit from the kitchen.
When asked during a press conference about the incident, state police confirmed that Mr Drummonds’ home was within the perimeter of the search but declined to elaborate on the break-in.
Chester County residents have been asked to “remain indoors at this time, lock your vehicles and review your surveillance cameras and contact police if you observe anything suspicious,” DA Deb Ryan said.
The most recent sighting came Monday night at Longwood Gardens, where trail surveillance video captured him walking through the area with a duffel bag, backpack and hooded sweatshirt he apparently stole while on the run.
That sighting led officials to move the search area farther south after they determined that Cavalcante had likely slipped through the original perimeter set by hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers.
Officials said his movements show he’s feeling the pressure of the massive search and that his options are dwindling.
“I intend to stress him. I want to push him hard. He’ll make mistakes,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt Col George Bevins said at a press conference. “He’ll show himself. He’s already shown himself, we believe, a few times.”
Law enforcement teams, including the US Marshals, SWAT, local, state, and other federal agencies, have joined the search to find Cavalcante Authorities are also offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.
On 22 August, Cavalcante 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.
He is also wanted for a 2017 murder in Brazil.