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Children of Danelo Cavalcante's victim Deborah Brandao surprised with signed pictures of K-9 Yoda

K-9 Yoda's handler surprises son of ex-girlfriend with signed photo after Danelo Cavalcante capture
K-9 Yoda's handler surprises son of ex-girlfriend with signed photo after Danelo Cavalcante capture 02:28

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. (CBS) -- Escaped Chester County prisoner Danelo Cavalcante was caught two weeks ago after a manhunt that included hundreds of law enforcement officers, drones, helicopters, a plane and K-9 units. 

Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison at the end of August after being sentenced to life in prison for the murder of ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao, a mother of two.

The Belgian Mailnois dog Yoda, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection K-9 officer, was key in Cavalcante's capture. Yoda bit and held down Cavalcante as law enforcement took him into custody out in South Coventry Township on Sept. 13

On Friday night, a Chester County detective brought Brandao's son, 6-year-old Yan Brandao, a special surprise from Yoda's handler. CBS News Philadelphia was there as Detective David Nieves paid a visit to a home in Phoenixville where Deborah's children now live with their aunt Sarah.

6-year-old Yan Brandao holds a signed photo of Yoda, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol K-9 who was key in the capture of Danelo Cavalcante. Brandao is the son of Deborah Brandao, the victim in the murder case that will send Cavalcante to life in prison without parole. CBS News Philadelphia

Nieves has become close with the family, and knew that Yan loves dogs and Grogu (commonly referred to as Baby Yoda) from the Star Wars franchise.

Friday night's get-together was about looking forward and the future. Nieves had an idea, and then a special surprise, for Yan.  

Yan's 9-year-old sister Yasmin and their aunt Sarah watched as Yan received two signed pictures and a letter from Yoda's handler.

One of the photos was signed with Yoda's paw print. The other reads "Yan, may the Force be with you, always."

CBS News Philadelphia

The joy and love felt in that room were palpable. Yan yelped with joy and was all smiles Friday night. 

"Happy," Yasmin said. "Because he's happy," she said of her brother.

Detective Nieves is worked the Cavalcante case from its inception in 2021. He's regularly checked in with and has been close to the family ever since.

"I guess I was anticipating [Yan's] reaction because I know how I reacted and how my coworkers reacted when we got the package from Michigan," Nieves said. 

Sarah's happiness, meanwhile, is rooted in a desire to make sure that Yasmin and Yan focus on the positives in life after the horrible hand they've been dealt. That means nights such as this one.

"If my kids are happy, I'm so happy," Sarah said.

The road ahead will no doubt see its fair share of challenges, but with the love and support system Yasmin and Yan have in their corner, we can only hope that the days like this one outnumber the others.

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