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Chester County Prison escape: Danelo Cavalcante sighted 1.5 miles away

Chester County Prison escape: Danelo Cavalcante sighted 1.5 miles away
Chester County Prison escape: Danelo Cavalcante sighted 1.5 miles away 03:04

POCOPSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) -- Residents near the Chester County Prison are being asked to lock their doors and stay inside due to a heavy police presence in the area - as the search for escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante continues into a third day.

Cavalcante, who authorities said escaped Thursday morning, was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao.

Officials said at a news conference Saturday they continue to believe Cavalcante has not gotten more than 1 to 2 miles away from the prison, and are closing in on him.

Because of the ongoing search, Longwood Gardens closed on Saturday as a precaution.

However, officials worry the escapee may try to break into a home, especially if the owner is away for the Labor Day weekend.

At about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, he was seen on a residential surveillance camera the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson Township, about 1.5 miles from where the prison is located, according to the Chester County District Attorney's Office.

The office released surveillance video filmed about one hour later that they say shows Cavalcante. In the video, filmed on a Eufy surveillance camera, a man can be seen walking through a yard next to a wooded area.

Police were also told of an attempted burglary Friday night on the 1000 block of Ballintree Lane. A homeowner there confronted a man fitting Cavalcante's description, District Attorney Deb Ryan said at the news conference.

"Look in your basements, look around your areas, check your cars. Make sure that things are locked," Ryan said.  

Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark said residents need to be vigilant. No one should approach Cavalcante, but securing your property is paramount.

"They need to be conscious of things such as someone's been in their shed, or they're missing a bike, or a door's open that wasn't left open," Clark said. "The very last thing that we want to see, besides somebody getting hurt, is him getting a set of car keys and then it's off to the races. [Then we would] have to track him down from an area we believe him pinned down at, to wherever he decides to stop driving. So it's very important over the next 24 hours that anything suspicious needs to be called in to 911."  

The DA's office said Cavalcante was wearing a light-colored T-shirt, white sneakers and pants. He has long, black curly hair and was wearing a backpack.

On Saturday morning, Chopper 3 flew over the search area in Pocopson Township where a large group of law enforcement officers, dressed in military-style uniforms could be seen gathering and driving down roads.

"There's well over 100 investigators out there from the state police, U.S. Marshals Service, local state county assets as well," Clark said.

Investigators combed through neighborhoods and searched down streets leaving many people on edge.

"I mean it's pretty scary because I got two nephews living at home so if he comes close that's a little bit scary because we got to lock our doors, lock our cars,"  Juan Hernandez said.

If residents report something amiss like a possible break-in, state troopers will be available to respond quickly, officials said at the news conference.

Ryan released this statement Saturday: 

"Law enforcement is requesting that residents in the area remain indoors at this time. Lock your vehicles. Review your surveillance cameras and contact police if you observe anything suspicious. Danelo Cavalcante is considered an extremely dangerous man. Please remain vigilant in assisting with this search. If you see this individual do not approach him. Call 911 immediately."

The news conference did not include any further details about how Cavalcante escaped the prison. Ryan said "Our main focus is just getting him into custody."

Cavalcante was convicted Aug. 16 on first-degree murder charges in Brandao's killing.

He arrived in the United States several years ago as a fugitive from justice in Brazil, according to court documents.

Investigators say he is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and speaks some English. He was last seen walking on South Wawaset Road.

Prosecutors have said that he killed Brandao to stop her from telling police about the charges against him in Brazil in connection with a 2017 slaying.

The heavily wooded area has made search efforts more difficult but residents in Chester County are hoping he's found soon.

"I'm confident they are going to snag him one way or the other," Bill Knox said.

Officials still have not said how Cavalcante was able to escape. Investigators are also asking neighbors to review their security cameras and report anything suspicious.

There is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to his capture, Ryan's office said.

Armed officers on the back of a pickup truck search on Sept. 2., 2023 for Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from the Chester County Prison. Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia
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