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Danilo Cavalcante: Fugitive Pennsylvania killer planned to flee to Canada before being captured, US Marshal says | cnn

Danilo Cavalcante: Fugitive Pennsylvania killer planned to flee to Canada before being captured, US Marshal says |  cnn


The convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison late last month is back behind bars and now facing additional charges, after a nearly two-week manhunt that captured national attention and put the surrounding community on edge.

Police caught 34-year-old Danilo Cavalcante by surprise in the woods of South Coventry Township on Wednesday morning, where a police dog played a key role in his dramatic capture.

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The escaped inmate planned to leave the country, according to Robert Clark, deputy supervisory U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“His goal was to hijack someone’s car and head north to Canada, and he intended to do that in the next 24 hours,” Clark told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday.

Clark, who did not speak to Cavalcante, cited what deputy marshals told him about an interview the prisoner had with law enforcement officials after his capture.

“He said the police presence where he was was overwhelming and he felt like he needed to leave,” Clark said.

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Cavalcante is now being held in a maximum security Pennsylvania prison, the State Correctional Institution – Phoenix, in Montgomery County, where he will serve a life sentence for his murder conviction.

He has now also been charged with felony escape and is due in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 27, court records show.

An attorney has not been listed in Cavalcante’s court documents and the public defender’s office declined to comment at this time. Pennsylvania authorities updated the spelling of Cavalcante’s name to Danilo in court documents Wednesday.

The inmate, who was convicted last month of first-degree murder in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison, escaped from the Chester County Jail in a rural area about 30 miles west of Philadelphia on the 31st. of August.

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He managed to evade authorities for 13 days, taking shelter in wooded areas, moving at night and, in the first few days, surviving on water from a stream and a watermelon he found on a farm, authorities said.

During his escape, Cavalcante sneaked through the search perimeters, was seen inside houses, stole a milk truck, changed his appearance, showed up at the doors of people he had known years before, stole a firearm and an owner. from home shot him.

Matt Rourke/AP

Officers escort Danilo Cavalcante from the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Avondale on Wednesday.

During the chase, hundreds of law enforcement officials searched challenging, heavily forested terrain, in some cases without finding the escaped inmate.

“We were close a couple of times where he was able to hint at us,” Chester County Chief Detective David Sassa told CNN. “He told us that at some moments the tactical teams passed in front of him.”

The terrain was so thick that law enforcement officers who were just five feet away couldn’t see each other, Sassa said.

“He was ingenious. He did the things he knew he could do. He wanted to take refuge in the forest,” Sassa added. “He did things that he felt comfortable with, he moved around at night, he told our investigators that at some times he stayed still for a day, a day and a half.”

When he was captured in South Coventry Township, about 20 miles from the facility from which he escaped, Cavalcante had the appearance of someone who had been in the woods for an extended period of time and appeared stressed, Bivens said Wednesday.

“Which is exactly what we were trying to do from the beginning,” Bivens said. “The goal was to keep him stressed, keep him moving and keep him out of the game.”

More than 20 officers in tactical gear and camouflage uniforms detained Cavalcante on Wednesday and escorted him to an armored vehicle. He was handcuffed, had blood on his face and was wearing a Philadelphia Eagles hoodie, the video shows.

About 500 law enforcement officers, including members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and U.S. Marshals, had set up a perimeter in South Coventry Township this week. to search for Cavalcante from the ground and the air.

Cavalcante answered investigators’ questions after his capture without hesitation, Clark told CNN.

“Shortly after escaping from prison, he had taken refuge in a very, very isolated, very, very wooded area and did not move for the first few days,” Clark said, citing Cavalcante’s post-capture interview with investigators. “He survived on a watermelon he found on a farm, drank water from a stream, hid his fecal matter under leaves and foliage so authorities couldn’t track him.”

Cavalcante told investigators that officers searching for him nearly stepped on him three times – or came within a few meters of him – as he hid in the woods, Clark said, without indicating when these near-encounters occurred.

“Three times, he described law enforcement almost stepping on him within a 7 or 8 yard radius,” Clark said. “That shows how thick the vegetation and foliage was.”

Cavalvante had been staking out the scene where he stole a truck from a dairy farm on Saturday, as well as a property where he stole a rifle this week, Clark said.

The rifle Cavalcante pulled from an open garage Monday night added a greater sense of danger to the search and the surrounding community.

Cavalcante escaped from prison by “crab-walking” between two walls, scaling a fence and crossing barbed wire before disappearing into the woods.

US Marshals Service Philadelphia

Escaped prisoner Danilo Cavalcante is shown after being captured on Wednesday

“This person had high capabilities that maybe a municipal jail isn’t always prepared for, but now we know we have to be prepared for these things,” Josh Maxwell, president of the Chester County Jail Board, told CNN on Wednesday. at night.

Another inmate escaped from the Chester County Jail in May by climbing to the roof, just as Cavalcante did, according to court documents obtained by CNN. That inmate, Igor Bolte, was captured in a nearby residential neighborhood just minutes after his escape and was returned to custody.

Investments are being planned to bolster prison security, including installing fencing around prisons, Maxwell said.

“There are still 600 people in prison and we are making investments right now to ensure that there is no way anyone can go down this route ever again,” he said.

“Our nightmare is finally over,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said Wednesday morning.

Ryan said one of the first calls he made after Cavalcante was captured was to the family of the woman he killed, 33-year-old Deborah Brandão. Prosecutors say Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her two young children in Pennsylvania in April 2021.

Sassa said he was one of the detectives who responded to the scene of that “horrible” murder.

“I was at that trial. I looked at him, he didn’t show any emotion. He didn’t apologize… Seeing him escape a week later the way she did was shocking to me,” Sassa said.

Brandão’s family had been “barred inside their homes without feeling safe anywhere” since his escape, Ryan said.

“They were screaming with joy and happiness because he’s incarcerated,” Ryan said. “They have lived their own personal nightmare.”

Brandão’s sister, Sarah Brandão, said in a written statement after Cavalcante’s capture that her family is “deeply grateful for the support and hard work done” by authorities.

The escape and the days that followed evoked the feeling of losing her sister again, Sarah said.

“The last two weeks have been extremely painful and terrifying as they brought back all the feelings of losing my sister and the thought that this criminal could hurt us again,” the statement, translated into English, reads.



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