Manhunt for dangerous fugitive hones in on heavily wooded area after four sightings

A manhunt continues for a dangerous inmate who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison last week as authorities focus on a heavily wooded area in Pocopsen Township after four confirmed sightings.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, has been on the run in Chester County since Thursday after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the fatal stabbing of his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend.

District Attorney Deb Ryan announced at a press briefing on Monday that the Pennsylvania State Police will be taking over the investigation and manhunt.

“The goal right now is to find and capture this dangerous fugitive,” Ms Ryan said, adding that she understands the community’s concerns. “We are doing everything in our power to get this guy.”

The search is focused on a two-mile radius of a heavily wooded area in Pocopsen Township, Chester County where there have been four credible sightings since the escape.

Police said on Monday that over the past five days, Cavalcante has been spotted at the intersection of Rt. 926 and Rt. 52, north on Rt. 52 to Parkersville Road, southeast to Rt. 926 and west to the intersection of Rt. 926 and Rt. 52 in Pocopson Township.

Danelo Cavalcante (Chester County Prison)
Danelo Cavalcante (Chester County Prison)

Ryan said police have responded to well over 100 tips from neighbours in the area, including allegations of possible break-ins within the two-mile radius of the prison.

“We are requesting that residents in the area of Pocopson Township remain inside. Lock your doors, lock your cars. He is still considered an extremely dangerous individual. There is evidence to suggest that he’s still in that local residence. We do not believe he has gotten more than one to two miles away from the prison,” Ms Ryan said.

“We believe we are getting closer to locating the suspect at this time, and we are narrowing the scope of our search,” she added.

Community members were also made aware that an audio recording from Cavalcante’s mother will be played throughout the day from police cars and helicopters. The message, which is in Portuguese – Cavalcante’s native tongue – is of his mother pleading for him to surrender peacefully.

He was spotted on cameras around 12.30am on Saturday in Pocopson Township, roughly one and a half miles from the prison.

Local authorities received a report of an attempted burglary in the area just an hour before Cavalcante was captured on surveillance but it is not immediately clear if he was involved.

Police said residents in the area should scan video from their doorbells or surveillance cameras for anything suspicious. They also advised people to check their cars and any sheds on their property.

Cavalcante is described as a 5ft Brazilian man with light complexion, shaggy, black curly hair and brown eyes. He is also wanted for a homicide in 2017 in Brazil, the US Marshals Service for Philadelphia said.

Since his escape, he was seen wearing a light-coloured shirt, pants, and white sneakers. He was also carrying a backpack, but police said they don’t know when he obtained the bag.

Cavalcante is described as 5ft tall with light complexion, shaggy, black curly hair and brown eyes
Cavalcante is described as 5ft tall with light complexion, shaggy, black curly hair and brown eyes

Hundreds of law enforcement teams, including the US Marshals, SWAT, local, state, and other federal agencies, have joined the search. Authorities are also offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to Cavalcante’s arrest.

Authorities urged people to not approach Cavalcante, who speaks Portuguese and Spanish.

Cavalcante killed his ex-girlfriend in Schuylkill Township in front of the victim’s seven-year-old daughter and a three-year-old before fleeing to Virginia. Ms Ryan called it a “heartbreaking tragedy”.