How did Danelo Cavalcante manage to slip past Pennsylvania authorities twice?

Police sources say Cavalcante jumped onto the prison’s roof from an exercise yard

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 07 September 2023 11:51 BST
Search expands for escaped Pennsylvania prisoner, Danelo Cavalcante

Authorities are facing mounting questions over two escapes by Danelo Cavalcante - one from prison and a second from a search perimeter.

Danelo Cavalcante remains on the run nearly a week after the convicted murderer managed to escape Chester County Prison on 31 August. The jailbreak has prompted a full-scale manhunt and local school closures after officials confirmed that Cavalcante snuck past the initial two-mile search perimeter.

District Attorney Deb Ryan said the incident was under investigation but declined to elaborate on how Cavalcante — who was recently sentenced to life for murdering his former girlfriend — was able to bypass security at the correctional facility.

Police sources who spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer under the condition of anonymity have now shed light on the circumstances surrounding the 34-year-old’s escape. According to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the escape, Cavalcante climbed onto the prison’s roof from one of the exercise yards.

It is believed that the fugitive then ran across the roof and jumped down to an area with less surveillance before he managed to leave the prison’s premises. The method is similar to the one used by another inmate who escaped from the same prison back in May — but was caught minutes later.

It comes just a day after officials revealed during a press conference on Tuesday that Cavalcante slipped past a two-mile perimeter investigators had set up right after the jailbreak. The developments have forced law enforcement to expand the search area and shutter schools in two nearby districts out of an abundance of caution.

Authorities have urged residents to keep their homes and vehicles locked, to check the properties of vacationing neighbours and to look out for missing cars, bicycles or any other mode of transportation Cavalcante might use.

Cavalcante has been spotted five times since he escaped from the Chester State Prison.

This aerial photo shows Chester County Prison on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in West Chester, Pa.
This aerial photo shows Chester County Prison on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in West Chester, Pa.

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.

Authorities said his movements show he’s feeling the pressure of the massive search and that his options are dwindling.

Cavalcante was sentenced last month for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend
Cavalcante was sentenced last month for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend

“That pressure we put on him is working. We squeezed him hard enough in a period of a few days where he couldn’t get some relief, and he squeezed out,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt Col George Bevins said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I wished we could’ve got him, but it’s a large, dark area, with difficult terrain.”

The fugitive was sentenced to life in prison last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children. He is also wanted in his native Brazil in a 2017 killing and is considered extremely dangerous, authorities said.

He escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison.

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