Convicted murderer and fugitive Danelo Souza Cavalcante, 34, has been captured, ending an almost two-week manhunt. He escaped from the Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania by climbing up the exercise wall on Aug. 31, and he had about an hourlong head start by the time officials put the facility on lockdown.
In a press conference Wednesday morning announcing the arrest, authorities said they picked up a heat signal in the early morning and tracked it, though a law enforcement aircraft had to back off because of bad weather that included lightning.
Shortly after 8 a.m., however, officers wearing tactical gear moved slowly into the area.
Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until it was too late, they said. According to officers, he crawled through the underbrush with the stolen rifle.
Law enforcement released a K-9, who subdued the fugitive. Authorities forcibly took him into custody after he continued to resist. He received a minor bite wound, and medical personnel took a look at that, authorities said.
This is the moment Pennsylvania killer Danelo Cavalcante was taken into a police van by SWAT officers after being on the run for nearly two weeks.
— CNN (@CNN) September 13, 2023
Authorities had called him dangerous and desperate because of how he ended up behind bars in the first place. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole last month for stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandão, 33, in Schuylkill Township in front of her two children, a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old. The kids ran for help as the killer stabbed their mother 38 times. Cavalcante struck the heart, kidney, lungs, and liver.
Investigators determined that Cavalcante had physically abused Brandão before and threatened to kill her. The motive for this homicide was that Brandão had learned that Cavalcante faced an open warrant in Brazil for another murder, and she discussed going to the cops about it.
Brandão’s sister, Sarah Brandão, told CNN that Cavalcante was controlling and violently jealous during the relationship.
The search for Cavalcante was marked by numerous sightings, including the fugitive appearing on surveillance and trail cameras. Authorities said he also stole a van and abandoned it, likely because of fuel problems.
They said the situation became a lot more dire Friday night when he stole a scoped rifle from a homeowner’s opened garage.
The capture puts an end to a search for someone who committed what prosecutors called a heinous murder.
“The defendant committed the most heinous crime imaginable by taking another human life,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said at the time of the sentencing. “Not only did he butcher Deborah Brandão to death with 38 stab wounds on virtually every vital organ, he did this in front of her two young children who will have to live with that horrific trauma for the rest of their lives. We are very grateful to everyone who assisted with this case including our outstanding Chester County Detectives, Schuylkill Township Police Department, our prosecutors, and crime victim advocate for their persistence in seeking justice for Ms. Brandão and her family.”
Note: This story has been updated with information from Wednesday’s police press conference
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]