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Danelo Cavalcante caught: What you need to know about Chester County Prison escape, timeline and more

Danelo Cavalcante caught: An updated timeline of Chester County Prison escape
Danelo Cavalcante caught: An updated timeline of Chester County Prison escape 02:44

CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- Convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante was caught Wednesday, Sept. 13, two weeks after escaping from the Chester County Prison on Thursday, Aug. 31.

RELATED: What's next for Danelo Cavalcante after escaped prisoner was recaptured?

Here's everything you need to know about the escape and a timeline of days while Cavalcante was on the run leading up to his capture.

Who is Danelo Cavalcante?

Cavalcante is 5 feet tall, 120 pounds, and has brown eyes and long dark curly hair. He was wearing a prison-issued uniform when he escaped, consisting of a white T-shirt, white sneakers and green pants. He was also wearing a backpack.

Cavalcante changed his appearance over the course of the manhunt, eventually shaving his face and acquiring a green sweatshirt and ditching his prison shoes for work boots. He later discarded the sweatshirt too, investigators said.

Cavalcante had about 30 days before being transferred to a state correctional institution after being sentenced last week. He was sentenced to life without parole for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, 38 times in the Phoenixville area in 2021 in front of her two young kids. 

An image from Chopper 3 shows police near the Chester County Prison after inmate Danelo Cavalcante escaped Thursday morning. He was sighted on residential surveillance cameras in the area Saturday, according to the Chester County District Attorney's Office. Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia

Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said Cavalcante has a horrific pattern of domestic violence and he was described as "extremely dangerous" by Chester County prosecutors. 

Cavalcante also had a warrant in a murder case in his native country Brazil, where he arrived several years ago as a fugitive, according to court documents.

Investigators said Cavalcante is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and speaks some English.

How did Cavalcante escape?

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison by climbing up a prison yard wall. He used his legs and arms to push himself up the wall, which is the same way another inmate got out of the prison earlier this year in the spring.

Video of the escape was released on day 7 of the manhunt. 

Once he was on the roof, Cavalcante was able to get past additional layers of razor wire. An acting warden for the prison said he was able to get past the wire that was installed after the first escape. 

Officials said a corrections officer in a tower failed to notice Cavalcante escape the yard. The officer was placed on administrative leave and eventually fired.


In the spring, the inmate who got out was apprehended minutes after because of the watchtower guard. 

Cavalcante's escape is now under investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.

Chester County officials wouldn't comment on how Cavalcante escaped until day seven of the search. Sources told CBS News Philadelphia on day six of the search he got out by climbing the prison wall. 

RELATED: Families take safety precautions as Danelo Cavalcante still remains at large

Other prisoner escapes in Pa. 

Cavalcante's escape isn't the first in Pennsylvania this year. 

Michael Burham escaped the Warren County Jail and was on the run for more than a week before he was captured.

Local, state and federal agencies were involved in the manhunt for Burham, a homicide suspect. 

In Philadelphia, two men – Ameen Hurst and Nasir Grant – escaped the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center in Holmesburg. They were both taken into custody after being on the run for several days.

Several others were charged with helping the escape.


Thursday, Aug. 31: timeline of escape

Below is a timeline from Chester County officials on how Cavalcante escaped the prison: 

  • 8:33 a.m.: Cavalcante's block enters the exercise yard.
  • 8:51 a.m.: Cavalcante escapes the prison by crab-walking up the tower wall, pushing through the razor wire, runs across the roof, scale another fence, and pushes through more razor wires.
  • 9:35 a.m.: Cavalcante's unit returned to the unit from the yard.
  • 9:48 a.m.: Officers inform central control that Cavalcante wasn't there.
  • 9:50 a.m.: Prison lockdown and there was a special count.

He was able to use his arms and legs to climb up a prison yard wall. He then avoided additional layers of barbed wire and got out. 

Friday, Sept. 1

The search for Cavalcante entered its second day. 

Investigators said they haven't uncovered any evidence showing Cavalcante has made it beyond Chester County.

The search for the convicted killer covers 759 square miles. Full of rural areas, Chester County is five and a half times the size of the city of Philadelphia.

"We believe he is hiding somewhere locally and that he is alone. The U.S. Marshals are actively involved in this manhunt," Ryan said during a news conference Friday. "Currently, we are looking everywhere in the area including railways, the Brandywine Creek and every area that may be a route out of Chester County. We have reason to believe he is heading south." 

Search for escaped Chester County prisoner carries into 2nd day 02:58

Saturday, Sept. 2

On early Saturday morning, Cavalcante was sighted 1.5 miles away on a residential surveillance camera in the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson Township, according to the Chester County DA's Office.

Due to the ongoing search, Longwood Gardens closed Saturday as a precaution.

Officials worried Cavalcante would try to break into unoccupied homes where owners were away for the Labor Day weekend.

Police were also told of an attempted burglary Friday night on the 1000 block of Ballintree Lane. The homeowner allegedly confronted a man fitting Cavalcante's description, DA Ryan said. 

Officials were, once again, alerting residents in the area to be on high alert, keep everything locked and check their basements, garages or any place where Cavalcante could access outside their property. 

Escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante spotted twice overnight near Chester County Prison 01:24

Sunday, Sept. 3

On the fourth day of the search, families and businesses in the area were taking extra safety precautions. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Chester County DA said they called in "additional law enforcement assets" joining the multiple agencies already looking for this escaped prisoner.

Longwood Gardens remained closed again Sunday. It reopened Monday.

Monday, Sept. 4

Pennsylvania State Police said Monday that there have been four credible sightings of Cavalcante, with the most recent coming Sunday. Investigators believe Cavalcante is still in the area.

According to state police, Cavalcante's mother recorded a message in Portuguese urging him to surrender. The message will be played from helicopters and cars in the area of Pocopson Township.

A perimeter was set up in Pocopson Township and investigators say it's just a matter of time until they catch him, especially if he is worn out, tired and desperate to find food and shelter. 

Danelo Cavalcante update: Authorities confirm 4 sightings of escaped Chester County Prison inmate 20:28

Tuesday, Sept. 5

The search for Calvacante shifted south after he appeared to slip through the original perimeter set up by authorities. 

Calvacante was spotted on surveillance cameras at Longwood Gardens twice Monday night, authorities said Tuesday. He was seen on the same surveillance camera at Longwood Gardens once at 8:21 p.m. and again at 9:33 p.m., Bivens said.

Pennsylvania State Police

The photos show Cavalcante has acquired an over-the-shoulder bag as well as a hooded sweatshirt.  

As the search area shifted, schools in the area were notified and two districts shut down Tuesday. 

Chester County authorities give update on search for escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante 24:32

Wednesday, Sept. 6

On day seven of the search, Chester County Officials released video of Cavalcante escaping the prison. 

The search perimeter also shifted to include the Brandywine Creek and as far east as Chadds Ford.

Chester County officials gives updates, release video of Danelo Cavalcante prison escape 38:25

Thursday, Sept. 7

CBS News Philadelphia/Open Street Map

Cavalcante was possibly spotted near Longwood Gardens on Thursday afternoon, state police said. 

Later in the night, police swarmed Longwood Gardens, which prompted a shelter-in-place for tenants on the property. Longwood Gardens will remain closed until further notice, a spokesperson said. 

The perimeter now includes the westernmost parts of Delaware County. The area is bounded by Route 926 to the north, Route 52 to the west and stretches just across the Brandywine Creek and into Chadds Ford to the east. 

CBS News Philadelphia's Chief Investigator Joe Holden uncovered information as law enforcement continues to attempt to bring Cavalcante back into custody.   

One day after Cavalcante escaped from prison, his public defender filed a motion seeking a new trial or a new sentence, documents show.

Attorneys for Cavalcante argued there was insufficient evidence presented at trial for a first-degree murder conviction. 

Judge Patrick Carmody quickly denied the requests for a new trial and sentencing. He said what Cavalcante did was one of the most horrific homicides the court has witnessed.

Officials provide update on search for inmate Danelo Cavalcante on 8th day of manhunt 28:37

Friday, Sept. 8

There were two confirmed sightings of escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante in the search area near the Chester County Prison, police said.

Hundreds of police officers, with help from K-9 units, helicopters, drones and other technology, have been combing the county for Cavalcante, who broke out on Aug. 31 after surveillance video showed him "crab-walking" up a wall in the exercise yard.

Pennsylvania State Police say in both sightings, people saw Cavalcante with their own eyes - not on surveillance cameras.

Danelo Cavalcante update: Police continue to focus on Longwood Gardens 02:28

Saturday, Sept. 9

As the manhunt continued on day 10, troopers remained near Longwood and Conservatory Roads positioned every few hundred yards. 

Chester County residents are being cautious with Cavalcante on the run.

Sunday, Sept. 10

Police said they expanded their search on Sunday after Cavalcante was spotted near the Phoenixville overnight Saturday.

The 34-year-old has now changed his appearance and is on the move again after stealing a van from a nearby dairy farm, authorities said. Police eventually recovered the stolen van. 

Cavalcante was seen on a Ring doorbell camera with a clean-shaven face, black baseball-style hat, a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, green prison pants and white shoes -- much different than what he looked like when escaping Chester County Prison. 


Monday, Sept. 11

Cavalcante was possibly spotted again in the East Nantmeal area on the 12th day of the search. 

At around 11 p.m., police were actively searching for Cavalcante in the area of 1993 Fairview Road.  

Police sent out reverse 9-1-1 calls to tell residents to shelter in place in the area of East Nantmeal. 

Sources said a shirt and shoes have been found in the area police were searching that possibly belong to Cavalcante. Numerous residents have called to dispatchers that shots have been fired in the area. 

A resident reported to police a gun was stolen during a confrontation where shots were fired at around 10:30 p.m. in the area of French Creek Elementary School near Route 100. 

Sources said the man who stole the gun fit the description of Cavalcante. It's unclear if the suspect was hit after a homeowner fired shots at the suspect, sources said.  

The man believed to be Cavalcante got away with a .22 caliber rifle with a scope, sources said.

Tuesday, Sept. 12

Law enforcement is pursuing escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante, who is armed with a rifle, in South Coventry Township, Chester County early Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania State Police said. 

State Police said Cavalcante is in the area of Ridge Road, Coventryville Road and Daisy Point Road. Residents in the area should lock all windows and doors, police said. 

Cavalcante is believed to have discarded a T-shirt and sweatshirt he was wearing and changed footwear since he was last spotted, according to police. The last description of Cavalcante is that he was shirtless and wearing pants and work boots.

Police provided more details from Monday night's incident where Cavalcante stole a man's rifle. 


Authorities said Cavalcante entered a garage of a home near French Creek Elementary School and acquired the .22 caliber rifle, which has a scope and flashlight, police said.

The homeowner and Cavalcante got into a confrontation, but police do not believe the suspect was injured by the gunfire after the owner fired multiple shots. 

The manhunt closed roads in South Coventry Township and shut down the Owen J. Roberts School District near the search area.

In a news conference, Gov. Josh Shapiro said, "We're gonna get this guy," adding that leaders know this is "a moment of deep worry and anxiety" for residents of the state and particularly the neighborhoods around the search area.

"We do feel like we've got this suspect contained in an area, we're putting all of our resources on it, all of our assets are being deployed," Shapiro said. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks on manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante 08:05

Wednesday, Sept. 13: Danelo Cavalcante is caught

Shortly after 12 a.m. Wednesday, a burglar alarm went off at a home near Prizer Road and Pottstown Pike (Route 100) in South Coventry Township. That location was within the search perimeter, Bivens said.

That alarm was investigated but Cavalcante was not found.

There were other tactical teams in an area nearby and a DEA plane overhead picked up a heat signal that it began to track, west of Route 100.

Tactical teams began to converge on the location where the heat source was moving, but then the aircraft had to leave the area and land due to overnight storms. Tactical teams then held the area during the storms to ensure there was no issue with an escape.

Then after 8 a.m., teams converged on the area where the heat signature was detected, and found Cavalcante low to the ground. He tried to crawl away.

"They were able to move in very quietly, they had the element of surprise," Bivens said. "Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred."

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