Chester County Prison escapee seen on another trail cam at Longwood Gardens: Sources

On Thursday night, Longwood Gardens closed early and evacuated amid a massive law enforcement response.

Danelo Cavalcante is seen on surveillance footage escaping prison

Danelo Cavalcante has been missing since he broke out of Chester County Prison on Aug. 31. (Chester County District Attorney)

What you need to know

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

An escaped prisoner in Chester County has so far eluded hundreds of law officers – including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, cops on horseback and aircraft – as the search entered its second week Thursday and nervous residents stayed alert for any sign of the fugitive.

Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a 34-year-old from Brazil, escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. The breakout mirrored an earlier escape there in May and wasn’t detected by guards for a full hour, authorities say.

On Thursday night, Longwood Gardens closed early and evacuated amid a massive law enforcement response.

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Sources tell Action News the flurry of activity was in response to the discovery of an image of Cavalcante captured on a trail camera on Longwood Gardens property. That image was captured Wednesday evening but was not viewed until Thursday afternoon by law enforcement sifting through hundreds of captured images from trail cameras throughout the perimeter.

A text message was sent out by Longwood Gardens ordering those on the property to shelter in place as a precaution.

The garden says it will be closed until further notice.

Since the escape, there have been multiple sightings near Longwood Gardens and the surrounding area that police believe could be Cavalcante.

Investigators still believe he is within the search perimeter, which is about 8 to 10 square miles. The latest sighting caused law enforcement to expand the perimeter west.

Video captures escape

Video released by authorities on Wednesday shows how Cavalcante escaped prison.

It happened at 8:51 a.m. at the facility in Pocopson Township.

The video shows Cavalcante walking toward a doorway at the Chester County Prison. He then spends a moment looking over his shoulder.

Cavalcante then places his hands on one wall and his feet on another, then manages to scale the walls while parallel to the ground.

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Acting Warden Howard Holland said Cavalcante was then able to climb up to the roof, push his way through razor wire, scale another fence, then push through more razor wire as he escaped.

Holland said there was a guard in the observation tower but that person did not see the escape.

We now know the officer in that tower is on administrative leave as a criminal investigation unfolds.

Cavalcante’s escape was similar to that of inmate Igor Vidra Bolte, who also broke out of the same prison in May by scaling a wall in an exercise yard to gain access to the roof, according to a criminal complaint obtained by ABC News.

However, Bolte was captured within minutes after the tower officer observed the inmate leaving the yard area and contacted control immediately.

James Cleare lives near the prison and spotted Bolte during the escape in May. He says this should have never happened twice.

“There is still the excuse of, ‘Well there’s barbed wire, we didn’t expect the human element of him hopping the barbed wire or climbing up the wall.’ What do you mean you didn’t expect it? It happened. I have proof it happened, the guy was in my yard. My kid saw him,” said Cleare.

Timeline of Cavalcante’s escape

Investigators say it took an hour for Cavalcante to be reported missing when he failed to report back from recreation time.

The following timeline was released by Acting Warden Howard Holland:

  • 8:33 a.m.: Cavalcante’s block entered the exercise yard
  • 8:51 a.m.: Cavalcante escapes from the prison by crab-walking up a wall, pushing his way through razor wire, running across the roof and pushing his way through more razor wire
  • 9:35 a.m.: Cavalcante’s block returns to the unit from the yard
  • 9:45 a.m.: Officers on Cavalcante’s block notify central control of a missing inmate
  • 9:48 a.m.: Officers inform central control that Cavalcante was missing. There was a belief he was in a phone visiting room but he was not there
  • 9:50 a.m.: The prison was locked down and a special count was conducted
  • 10:01 a.m.: The public escape siren was sounded and the 911 center was notified

Latest sightings of Cavalcante

Cavalcante has been spotted several times this week at Longwood Gardens.

On Tuesday night, state police say there was a sighting of Cavalcante by a resident in the area of Chandler Road in Pennsbury Township. Lt. Col. George Bivens said Wednesday that teams searched for hours but were unable to locate him.

Cavalcante was also spotted on video around 1:43 a.m. on September 2, on the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson Township. It’s about 1.5 miles from the prison.

Police say Cavalcante was also spotted the next day from a distance by a state trooper who gave chase but lost him.

And hours before that, Ryan Drummond claims he saw Cavalcante inside his home on Friday night around 11:45 p.m. Police arrived but the man escaped back into the thick wood and brush after taking some food.

Hot weather, dense forest complicate search

Dense woods, thick underbrush and the hot weather in Chester County have been complicating the search for Cavalcante.

Pennsylvania state police addressed the issue after Cavalcante slipped the perimeter established by authorities after his escape from the county’s prison.

Police said the brush is likely helping the convicted killer hide. Police say the brush is so thick that searchers can only go a few feet before losing sight of each other and they have to hack their way through it.

Devices usually used in searches like this are being hindered by the weather. It’s too hot for technology that can spot body temperature to pick anything up.

Cavalcante has already gotten his hands on a backpack, clothing and unknown supplies.

Police say the convicted murderer is growing more desperate to get away and that they want to minimize the opportunity for him to encounter anyone else or obtain any additional items.

What does Danelo Cavalcante look like?

Cavalcante is five feet tall and weighs 120 pounds with long, shaggy black curly hair and brown eyes. He is a Brazilian man who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and some English.

What was Cavalcante convicted of?

Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder on Aug. 16 for fatally stabbing his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, 38 times in front of her two young children in Schuylkill Township in 2021.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole last week for the fatal stabbing and was set to be transferred to a state correctional institution in four weeks.

Prosecutors say he killed his girlfriend to stop her from telling police about the charges against him in Brazil. He was captured in Virginia after Brandao’s killing and authorities believe he was trying to return to his home country.

How residents can help

Residents are being asked to secure their property, check on neighbors and keep an eye on security cameras. Call police if you see anything suspicious.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the U.S. Marshals’ Tipline at 877-WANTED-2. There is a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to Cavalcante’s capture.

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