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Convicted Murderer Who Escaped Pennsylvania Prison Stole Van, Showed up at Ex-Colleagues' Homes

Danelo Cavalcante has changed his appearance by shaving off his facial hair since his Chester County Prison escape, according to police.

By Grace Jidoun
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More than a week after breaking out of a medium-security prison in Chester County, Pennsylvania, an hour west of Philadelphia, a convicted killer is still on the loose despite multiple credible sightings and a throng of state and federal authorities on the case.

Danelo Cavalcante's bolt from police escalated over the weekend when he allegedly stole a white van and showed up at the front doors of two different former work acquaintances, authorities revealed.

RELATED: Convicted Murderer Escaped Pennsylvania Prison Using Similar Method as Inmate Who Broke Out of Same Facility in May

On August 31 — within days of being sentenced to life without parole for the April 2021 stabbing death of his girlfriend, 33-year-old Deborah Brandao — Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison by "crab-walking" between two walls in an exercise yard, pushing through razor wire to reach the roof, and fleeing into the local community on foot.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported he had a history of domestic violence and threw Brandao to the ground, stabbing her more than 30 times in front of her kids. Cavalcante, 34, is also wanted for a 2017 homicide in his native Brazil. 

Security images of Danelo Cavalcante in a green hoodie, black hat, green prison pants, and white shoes.

According to police, Cavalcante has changed his appearance by shaving off his facial hair since his prison escape. Before this weekend, authorities seemed confident they were closing in on Cavalcante. Hundreds of police officers were called in to set up a perimeter in an area encompassing the popular botanical garden, Longwood Gardens, but the fugitive’s latest move changed the scope of the search.

RELATED: "Extremely Dangerous" Convicted Murderer Escapes Pennsylvania Prison, Sparking Hunt and Reward

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens detailed at a press conference Sunday what happened. “Sometime during the evening of September 9, Cavalcante stole a 2020 Ford Transit van from an area approximately three-quarters of a mile from the perimeter we were maintaining near the Longwood Gardens Property," Bivens said.

"At 9:52 p.m., he attempted to contact an individual he had known and worked with several years prior," Bivens added. "Cavalcante spoke with the individual via a video doorbell at that residence and inquired about meeting... The individual was at dinner with his family and did not respond... Calvacante left that residence. The homeowner eventually returned home, reviewed his doorbell recording, and called local police.”

Security images of Danelo Cavalcante in a green hoodie and black hat.

Fifteen minutes later, the fugitive sought out a second acquaintance, who was also not home, police said. According to Bivens, a quick-thinking female resident spotted him and called the police. Thanks to these reports, police placed Cavalcante in the Phoenixville area, about 45 minutes away from the prison.

On Sunday morning, at 10:40 a.m., the stolen van was found abandoned in a field behind a barn in the heavily wooded area of East Nantmeal Township.

RELATED: Defense for Man Charged with Killing Hollywood Sex Therapist Suggests She Fell from Balcony While Fleeing Him

In another press conference on Monday, Bivens asked Chester County residents in the area of Pocopson Township to keep a lookout and to ensure that their vehicles, homes, and outbuildings are locked.

The U.S. Marshals Service and the police have upped a reward to a combined $25,000 for information leading to Calvalcante's capture.

“I know this is an extremely stressful time for the community. We are doing everything possible to bring this to a resolution as quickly as possible,” Bivens said.  

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