A “heat signal” spotted by a federal police plane early Wednesday led to the capture of the convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison two weeks ago and stoked fear across much of Philadelphia’s western suburbs.
Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said fugitive Danelo Cavalcante, 34, was captured about 8 a.m. in a wooded area about 15 miles north of the Chester County Jail, where he climbed a wall and escaped on Aug. 31 . That was nine days after he was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder in the April 2021 killing of his ex-girlfriend.
Bivens said a burglar alarm that went off just after midnight drew investigators’ attention to the area. The heat signal was soon received by a DEA aircraft assisting in the search, and officers gathered to enter.
The officers surprised Cavalcante, who was trying to “crawl through the thick undergrowth, taking his rifle with him,” Bivens said. A police dog was sent after Cavalcante and he was quickly taken into custody.
Here’s what you should know:
— Over the weekend, authorities shifted their search to an area about 30 miles north of the prison after Cavalcante slipped through a police perimeter. On Monday evening, authorities say Cavalcante stole a .22-caliber rifle from an open garage while the owner shot him with a handgun.
— To escape, the 5-foot-tall prisoner ran between two walls in the prison’s exercise yard, following a path another prisoner had used in May. He then broke through the barbed wire that had been laid after the previous escape attempt and fled over the roof, over a fence and through more barbed wire to freedom. A week after the search began, the prison fired a correctional officer who was stationed in a guard tower but was unable to witness Cavalcante’s escape.
— In the early days of the search, residents of a quiet area of forest and farmland about an hour’s drive outside Philadelphia lived with unrelenting discomfort. Police teams raced through backyards searching for Cavalcante as drones and helicopters filled the sky.
— Cavalcante has already successfully evaded capture. He disappeared in the northern Brazilian desert after an arrest warrant was issued for him in connection with a 2017 murder.