WEST GOSHEN — The hundreds of state police and other law enforcement personnel who have been tracking escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante have been forced to expand the search area they had been focused on over the weekend, according to a police spokesman Tuesday.
On Monday evening, a privately operated trail camera on property belonging to Longwood Gardens took two photographs of the escapee as he made his way first north, then south along the tourist attraction’s eastern boundary and eventually outside of the perimeter that had been established in the Parkersville area to keep him contained.
The area he was spotted in put him in reach of Route 1 east of Longwood, and eventually across the road south of the busy highway, said Lt. Colonel George Bivens, the state police deputy commissioner of operations who is helping to oversee the search, now in its fifth day since Cavalcante somehow broke out of the Chester County Prison.
“We believe he is outside of that radius and that is why we shifted that perimeter,” to the south of Route 1, Bivens said at a news conference held at the county Government Services Center in West Goshen.
“I think that what has occurred is that the pressure we said we would put on him is working,” Bivens said as District Attorney Deb Ryan and County Detectives Chief David Sassa stood alongside him. “We’ve squeezed him hard enough over a period of days and although he has not been able to get any relief he has managed to find a place to get out.”
Bivens reiterated that the public can assist in the search by being vigilantly aware of their property and that of their neighbors. They should check for suspicious activity in their yards and outbuildings, keep their house and car doors locked, and notify police if they see anything that might be a sign of Cavalcante’s whereabouts.
Cavalcante, 34, a Brazillian native from Montgomery County, is still dressed largely in the prison clothing that he was wearing when he escaped from the complex on Wawaset Road in Pocopson, but had acquired a hooded sweatshirt of underdetermined color, a back pack, and a duffel bag, Bivens said. How he came by those items is still undetermined.
“Obviously I wish we would have been able to capture him without him being able to get out of that perimeter, but I’m also not shocked,” the veteran of past searches for criminal suspects and others told the assembled media. “It’s dark, it’s a wooded area. Not to make any excuses it just difficult terrain.” Where he may be now — along Route 1 — is more defined as open fields and modern residential homes.
“I think this a little more open,” he said. “I’m encouraged by the fact that he’s there. We realized within a few hours just where he was, so he has not been able to move a long distance.” The photos that alerted police to Cavalcante’s movements were taken at approximate 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday, he said.
Longwood Gardens and its more than 1,000 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows is closed on Tuesdays, and Bivens suggested that the 200 to 250 personnel that are assigned to the search would be in place there and elsewhere during the day.
The state police administrator said that he did not believed that Cavalcante had been able to make his way as far south as Delaware, which is about 4 miles from the village of Longwood. As of 11 a.m., flight tracking data showed helicopters searching the area north of Route 1.
“I absolutely think he is succumbing to the pressure, and he’s trying to escape,” Bivens said. “He found a point that he could squeeze through that perimeter and travel south. We will now expand that area and move it so we can try and encapsulate him again.”
Asked by a reporter if Cavalcante had any history that would suggest he had survival skills that allowed him to elude capture after four days on the run, seemingly within the manhunt grasp, Bivens said he did not.
“You are dealing with someone we is desperate and doesn’t want to be caught,” he said. “And so if he can find something, some clothing, if he can find some shelter, find some food, he is going to take advantage of anything he can find. That is why we put pressure on him, not not allow him the luxury of rest.
“I think this was an opportunity he took to get out of jail and once out he’s now winging it,” he said. “And so he does what he has to do to avoid (capture.)
Along with Longwood Gardens, the schools in the Kennett Consolidated and Unionville-Chadds Ford school districts were closed on Tuesday in an abundance of caution.
Bivens said that residents of the area should be vigilant and use “common sense” in their daily business, but should not feel as though the were on “lock down.”
“They should be observant of what’s going in their homes and yards,” he said. “But I wouldn’t want to feel like I was a prisoner in my home.”
Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder last month for the April 2021 stabbing death of his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, who he had a history of directly domestic violence towards. The slaying took place as her two children watched outside their rental home in Schuylkill. His first-degree murder conviction meant that he would spend a life behind bars, but he was awaiting transportation to the state prison system to meet with his public defender attorneys when he escaped.
No details of the escape have been made public, but it follows by three months another escape at the prison, when an inmate scaled walls in the exercise yard and jumped to the roof of the complex.
His absence was not noticed for at last an hour after 8:40 a.m. or so, and he was last seen that day walking on Wawaset Road about 9:45 a.m.
Anyone with information on his where about should call 911, or the state police tip line at 717-562-2987.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.
Source: Berkshire mont