Around noon Thursday, Cavalcante showed up again near Longwood Gardens — not far from the location he was spotted previously on camera. Additional law enforcement scrambled to search the area. But, they came up empty handed.
“We’re using people on foot. We have horses out there as well that are assisting with the search, tactical teams and, of course, the aviation assets,” Pennsylvania State Trooper Lt. Col. George Bivens said during Thursday’s press conference.
When asked whether Cavalcante was “winning,” Bivens said search teams will not give up until Cavalcante is back in a cell.
“We’ve chased people for a lot longer than this and ultimately brought them to justice,” he said. “As I’ve said before, we’re not going anywhere. We will eventually capture him. And when we do, he’s going to prison. I don’t consider that winning.”
In an era of cameras and surveillance equipment, many across the country and abroad are wondering how the escaped, convicted murderer remains at-large. As Bivens highlighted, the forested terrain and scorching temperatures have complicated the search.
He stopped short of crediting Cavalcante’s wit as a reason for his continued escape.
“High temperatures, high humidity. [Law enforcement is] wearing uniforms with bullet resistant vests, carrying a lot of equipment. It certainly adds to the challenge,” Bivens said.
Prison breakouts are not an anomaly
Prison breakouts are more frequent than the public realizes, said Dr. Bryce Peterson, adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses. Peterson emphasized the lack of data on escapes from custody, but he added that the limited data available indicate that well over 90% of people who escape are eventually recaptured.
“Most escapes from custody are simply people walking off of facilities — lower security facilities that don’t have walls, or fences are very minimal barriers for them to overcome, or sometimes people are allowed out of facilities during the day on work release, or to attend college classes, for example, and they simply don’t come back when they’re supposed to,” Peterson said.
What makes this particular breakout so unique is the length of time Cavalcante has slipped past police, especially considering the seriousness of his criminal background, Peterson said.
Igor Bolte escaped from the same prison in May. But, Bolte was returned to custody within five minutes.
“When people do escape, they’re captured pretty quickly, maybe not always a few minutes,” Peterson said.” But typically, people are captured within a day or two. For someone to stay out for a week — that’s more rare.”
Cavalcante has managed to hide in an area ideal for staying out of sight.
“Escaping from a place that’s near thick woods [and] areas to hide that just makes it inherently more difficult for someone to be recaptured,” Peterson said.
Cavalcante was serving a life sentence for murdering his ex-girlfriend in 2021. He also has a warrant for his arrest in Brazil.
Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said the victim’s family is under police protection.
“They haven’t left their home,” Ryan said. “They’re barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety. We do have police detail around them 24 hours a day. But I know they’re very, very worried.”
If and when Cavalcante is found, he will be taken to a state correctional facility — not returned to the county prison he escaped from last week.
Bivens, of the State Troopers, said more out-of-state resources are continuing to arrive to help with the manhunt.
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