Pennsylvania fugitive captured after two-week manhunt
PHOTO CAPTION: Escaped fugitive Danelo Cavalcante, 34, a Brazilian who escaped from Chester County Prison where he was awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for killing his ex-girlfriend, is taken into custody by law enforcement officers in Chester County, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 13, 2023. Pennsylvania State Police/Handout via REUTERS
By Brendan O'Brien
(Reuters) -A convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail was captured on Wednesday with the help of a police dog as he hid in thick brush after eluding a manhunt for two weeks and unnerving residents in the suburbs west of Philadelphia, authorities said.
Tactical teams surrounded Danelo Cavalcante at around 8 a.m. in a rural area about 30 miles (50 km) west of Philadelphia. As he tried to crawl away, a police dog subdued him and he was forcibly taken into custody, Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens said.
Cavalcante, who was armed with a rifle, was taken into custody without further incident. Bivens said he did not have the opportunity to use the firearm.
Cavalcante broke out of the Chester County Prison two weeks earlier by climbing between two walls that formed a narrow corridor in the jail house yard and scrambling onto the roof, according to police.
"It's never easy to find someone who doesn't want to be found in a large area," Bivens said in response to a question during a Wednesday news briefing shortly after Cavalcante's capture.
He escaped while waiting to be transferred from the county lockup to a state correctional institution to begin serving a life sentence handed down after his conviction earlier in August for the brutal killing of a former girlfriend.
His capture began shortly after midnight on Wednesday when police responded to a burglar alarm that went off at a nearby home. About an hour later, an aircraft flying overhead picked up a heat signal, and tactical units converged at that point.
In live video shown on CNN, Cavalcante can be seen surrounded by dozens of law enforcement personnel in camouflage as he was put inside an armored vehicle.
His escape unsettled many in the region. School districts canceled classes for a day after Cavalcante was seen on security-camera video on a trail. Police expanded their search and urged residents to keep their doors locked, but he was able to slip through an initial perimeter.
More than a week after his escape, he stole a van and drove about 25 miles (40 km) before abandoning the vehicle. By that time, he had shaved off his beard. On Monday night, he stole the rile from a garage.
During his flight, Cavalcante tried to contact several people for their assistance, including his sister, but she did not help him, police said. She was later taken into custody for an immigration violation.
A jury found Cavalcante guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2021 stabbing death of his former girlfriend at her home in Schuylkill Township in front of her young children. After the murder, he fled the scene, according to authorities. Hours later, police arrested him in Virginia.
After his escape from the county jail, authorities had offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Cavalcante, a Brazilian national, is also a suspect in a 2017 murder in Brazil, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
(Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Mark Porter)