The sister of a dangerous fugitive whose prison escape more than a week ago triggered a full-scale manhunt in Pennsylvania has been arrested by US immigration authorities.
Pennsylvania state police provided an update on Sunday afternoon on the ongoing search for 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from Chester County Prison on 31 August. Cavalcante was last spotted near Phoenixville in northern Chester County on Saturday night.
A white 2020 Ford Transit van that he stole was recovered by authorities after it was left abandoned in East Nantmeal Township later that day.
State police have also confirmed that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Cavalcante’s sister Eleni Cavalcante over “some immigration issues”. She faces the possibility of deportation, Lt Col George Bivens said.
Mr Bivens didn’t say whether she is suspected of helping her brother Cavalcante.
Cavalcante escaped while he was awaiting transfer to state prison. He was sentenced to life for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao.
It’s not Cavalcante’s first time being on the run. Right after he stabbed Brandao to death in front of her children in April 2021, Cavalcante was briefly on the run before he was arrested in Virginia and extradited to Pennsylvania.
During his trial earlier this year, Eleni Cavalcante’s boyfriend Francisco Lima testified that he had helped Cavalcante escape following the brutal stabbing, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Mr Lima, who received immunity in exchange for his testimony, said that he had bandaged Cavalcante’s wounds, given him a clean change of clothes and put gas in his car so he could drive out of state.
Although authorities declined to comment on whether Ms Cavalcante’s arrest is linked in any way to his brother’s escape, they revealed on Sunday that Cavalcante has made attempts to contact former coworkers.
The fugitive showed up at an old associate’s home around 9.50pm on Sunday and requested through the doorbell camera to meet with him.
The individual was out having dinner with his family and did not immediately respond to Cavalcante. He later alerted local police of the sighting.
Doorbell video images showed Cavalcante to be now clean-shaven and wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, green prison pants and white shoes.
The fugitive then travelled to the home of another former coworker’s home in Phoenixville. A female who was at the home when Cavalcante rang the bell called a friend, who eventually informed law enforcement about the sighting.
Then, around 10.40am on Sunday, police found the van that Cavalcant had stolen in a field behind a barn in East Nantmeal Township, about 15 miles from Phoenixville. Lt Col Bivens said he believed Cavalcante abandoned the vehicle at least in part because it was low on fuel.
Authorities are concerned that he would attempt to obtain another vehicle or has already done so.
The manhunt has been repeatedly expanded as Cavalcante has managed to sneak past the search perimeter several times.
The area where Cavalcante abandoned the van is roughly a 40-minute drive from the previous eight-mile perimeter police had established near the popular Longwood Gardens botanical park.
“No perimeter is 100 per cent secure. We do the best we can. Most times we’re able to secure it adequately,” Mr Bivens said on Sunday.
He added that some underground tunnels and “very large drainage ditches” made it very difficult to completely secure the search area.
US Marshalls, the FBI, and SWAT teams have joined the full-scale search for Cavalcante. Police had been planning to use close to 600 personnel Monday for “one massive sweep” of the search area, Mr Bivens said.
Local and federal police and the state’s Crime Stoppers have offered a combined $20,000 reward for information that leads to Cavalcante’s capture.
Authorities have warned the public that Cavalcante is believed to be “extremely dangerous” and have asked anyone who comes in contact with him to immediately call 911.
Cavalcante climbed up a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbing over razor wire and then running across a roof before jumping to the ground — the same method an inmate used in May before he was captured within minutes.
Cavalcante’s escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a headcount.
The jailbreak is being investigated by the state’s attorney’s office and a prison tower guard who failed to report it has already been fired.
Anyone with information about Cavalcante’s current whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the US Marshals’ Tipline at 877-WANTED-2.