Cavalcante has been spotted at least six times since escaping from Chester County Prison last week, and authorities continue to move and expand their search perimeter — now a vast area filled with forests and thick brush — while residents remain on edge.
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A murderer who made a brazen escape from a Chester County jail yard last week was still on the lam Thursday, but some schools that had closed due to the extensive manhunt planned to reopen, along with Longwood Gardens, the popular tourist attraction that was shuttered when the escapee was spotted on its property.
Danelo Souza Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31. He scaled a wall, climbed over razor wire and jumped from a roof in a breakout that wasn’t detected by guards for a full hour, authorities have said. He has since been spotted at least six times, and authorities continue to move and expand their search perimeter — now a vast area filled with forests and thick brush — while residents remain on edge.
Howard Holland, the acting warden of the Chester County Prison, played a security video at a news conference Wednesday. It shows Cavalcante standing in a passageway next to the jail yard before bracing his hands on one wall and his feet on another then “crab-walking” up the walls out of the camera’s view.
Holland said the prison had brought in a consultant after an inmate escaped in May in similar fashion, and added razor wire to that area.
“What was perhaps overlooked was the fact that addressing the single point of physical countermeasures should have been bolstered by additional means. We are addressing that,” Holland said. He said the prison was fully staffed when Cavalcante broke out.
The prison is considering adding officers to the yard during recreation times, as well as caging in the top of those yards, Holland said. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has taken over the escape investigation, he said.
Holland said the inmate who escaped in May was returned within minutes after a tower guard quickly sounded the alarm. He said Cavalcante was identified as missing after a headcount, more than an hour after the video was taken. A public siren was sounded about 10 a.m.
Holland declined to say why the guard, whose name has not been made public, had not noticed Cavalcante hopping from the roof and heading away from the prison’s perimeter.
Cavalcante received a life sentence last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children in 2021. He escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison. Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police that he’s wanted in a 2017 killing back in Brazil.
He had been captured in Virginia after her killing and authorities believe he was trying to return to Brazil.
The escape and search have attracted international attention and became big news in Cavalcante’s native Brazil. The main newspaper in Rio de Janeiro ran a lengthy story Wednesday with the headline “Dangerous hide-and-seek.”
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Keystone senior community editor Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.