K-9 named Yoda helped authorities catch escaped murderer in Pennsylvania

Danelo Cavalcante made one last attempt to get away, but Yoda was unleashed to stop him.

A close-up of a dog, Yoda

What you need to know

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

As authorities closed in on Danelo Cavalcante, an escaped murderer who spent two weeks on the run after breaking out of a Pennsylvania prison, he made one last attempt to get away.

But a K-9 named Yoda helped bring the manhunt to a swift end.

A plane picked up Cavalcante’s heat signature on Tuesday night in a wooded area of Chester County.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Police formed a tight perimeter around him and moved in to make the arrest early Wednesday morning.

Cavalcante had been lying prone, likely to avoid detection, when search teams of about 20 to 25 members got close enough for him to realize they were there.

“They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred,” said Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Cavalcante began to crawl through heavy underbrush to try to escape, prompting the Customs and Border Patrol team to release Yoda, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, to pursue him.

“They actually gave him verbal commands. He refused the verbal commands. He attempted to crawl away,” said Supervisory Deputy Robert Clark of the U.S. Marshals.

The dog subdued him in a struggle, leaving Cavalcante with a bleeding scalp wound.

He was first bitten on the forehead, then Yoda clenched his thigh and held on, Clark said. That’s when Cavalcante submitted, and officers got him in handcuffs.

“I think he was in pain at that point,” Clark said. “He was probably in excruciating pain.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

From the time law officers moved in to the time they captured Cavalcante took about five minutes, Bivens said.

Officers say Yoda played an important role in preventing Cavalcante from using the rifle he had with him.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal