A convicted murderer who had escaped from a Pennsylvania jail was captured on Wednesday with the assistance of a heat-sensing aircraft and a police dog, bringing an intense two-week manhunt to an end, according to authorities. The escape had left residents in the Philadelphia suburbs on edge.
Danelo Cavalcante, the fugitive, was surrounded by tactical teams around 8 a.m. in a rural area located approximately 30 miles (50 km) west of Philadelphia. As he attempted to evade capture, a police dog named Yoda apprehended him, and he was apprehended by law enforcement personnel, stated Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens. Cavalcante had a stolen rifle from a garage in his possession, but no shots were fired during the arrest.
Cavalcante had broken out of Chester County Prison two weeks prior by squeezing between two walls, creating a narrow passage within the jail yard, and climbing onto the roof, as reported by the police.
In response to a question during a news briefing on Wednesday about the extended manhunt, Bivens noted, “It’s never easy to find someone who doesn’t want to be found in a large area.”
During his time on the run, Cavalcante survived by consuming watermelon he found on a farm and drinking water from streams, according to Robert Clark, a supervisor with the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force. Clark relayed information obtained from questioning Cavalcante following his capture, noting that Cavalcante had taken measures to hide his waste under leaves and foliage to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Clark added that Cavalcante’s plan was to carjack someone and head north to Canada, intending to execute this plan within the next 24 hours. Cavalcante had escaped on August 31 while awaiting transfer from the county jail to a state correctional institution, where he was to begin serving a life sentence for the murder of his former girlfriend.
The process of capturing Cavalcante began shortly after midnight on Wednesday when police responded to an alarm at a nearby residence. Approximately an hour later, a Drug Enforcement Administration aircraft detected a heat signal, leading tactical units to converge on his location.
Following his capture, Cavalcante was photographed with around two dozen police officers in tactical gear. When asked about the photograph, Bivens expressed pride in their work.
Cavalcante’s escape had unsettled many in the region, leading school districts to cancel classes for a day when security camera footage showed him walking on a trail. Despite an expanded search and repeated warnings to residents to lock their doors, he had managed to evade capture.
More than a week after his escape, he stole a van and drove around 25 miles (40 km) before abandoning the vehicle. During this period, he had shaved his beard using a razor he had found in a stolen backpack.
While on the run, Cavalcante attempted to contact several individuals, including his sister, for assistance, but she did not aid him and was subsequently taken into custody on an immigration violation.
Cavalcante, a Brazilian national, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2021 stabbing death of his former girlfriend in Schuylkill Township, in front of her young children. Following the murder, he fled but was arrested in Virginia. The U.S. Marshals Service also considers him a suspect in a 2017 murder in Brazil.