Danelo Cavalcante captured updates: 2-week manhunt ends in Pa. – USA TODAY

Danelo Cavalcante, the convicted murderer who broke out of a Pennsylvania prison nearly two weeks ago, was captured Wednesday, concluding an exhaustive manhunt that bore down on rural areas of the state, closed schools and jangled the nerves of local residents.
Cavalcante was apprehended around 8 a.m. after his heat signal was detected hours earlier by a plane with a thermal imaging camera west of Pennsylvania Route 100, north of Prizer Road, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference.
The plane zeroed in on Cavalcante’s location after a burglar alarm alerted authorities to his presence shortly after midnight. After waiting out a storm overnight, law enforcement closed in on the area early Wednesday.
“They had the element of surprise,” Bivens said. “Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred.”
Cavalcante, 34, tried to escape, crawling through thick underbrush with a rifle he stole from a homeowner earlier in the week, Bivens said. A search dog was released and “subdued him,” Bivens said, adding that Cavalcante sustained a “minor” dog bite and was “forcibly” taken into custody as he continued to resist.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark told The Associated Press the dog latched onto the fugitive’s thigh, forcing him to submit. “He was probably in excruciating pain,” Clark said.
A photo displayed at Wednesday’s news conference shows Cavalcante, wearing long pants and a Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt, being held by uniformed authorities after his capture. Later, after he was arraigned on escape charges, Cavalcante was led out with his hands and bare feet shackled.
“Our nightmare is finally over, and the good guys won,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said.
Bivens said Cavalcante was taken to the Avondale state police station to be questioned. He will ultimately be taken to a state correctional facility where he’ll begin serving a life sentence after being convicted of murder last month. 
Footage from a local TV station showed law enforcement officials escorting Cavalcante, draped in a silver blanket, out of an armored vehicle and into the Avondale State Police Barracks on Wednesday at about 9:45 a.m.
Onlookers got out of their cars, waving and watching from overpasses as a column of law enforcement vehicles took Cavalcante into custody.
Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 while he was awaiting transfer to a state facility to serve the life sentence for stabbing a former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in 2021. He also is wanted in a 2017 murder in his native Brazil.
Emotional toll:The escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante was caught. Why the ordeal scared us so much.
The fugitive’s arrest ends a search involving about 500 officers who used dogs, helicopters and horses to scour dense woodlands across Chester County. Police most recently focused their pursuit on South Coventry Township in northern Chester County, roughly 20 miles north of the prison he escaped.
On Monday night, Cavalcante was spotted there several times, including when he walked into the open garage of a home in a rural area 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, stole a rifle and fled as the homeowner shot at him several times with a pistol.
Authorities closed roads and released warnings urging residents to stay inside and lock their doors Tuesday. One local school district canceled classes twice this week. Two other school districts near Longwood Gardens, a popular tourist destination, closed twice last week after sightings of Cavalcante in the area.
After two intense weeks pursuing the elusive fugitive, several of the law enforcement agents involved in the effort celebrated his capture − too much in the eyes of some.
More than two dozen officers in tactical gear posed for a group photo with a handcuffed Cavalcante in front of them shortly after nabbing him, a move Bivens said he didn’t object to but that drew rebukes from other sources, including fellow police.
“It is not appropriate. It is not ethical. It’s really inhumane,” said Niles R. Wilson, a former police captain and now the senior director of law enforcement initiatives at the Center for Policing Equity. “In my law enforcement experience I know how amped up police can get, but that’s not an excuse to mistreat someone.”
The Pennsylvania State Police forbids posting or forwarding images of state police investigations or operations, but it’s not clear whether simply taking the picture is covered by those rules. The moment of the photo was captured from a news helicopter by Philadelphia’s KYW-TV.
Regardless, Bivens said he was fine with it. “They’re proud of their work,” he said. “I’m not bothered at all by the fact that they took a photograph with him in custody.”
At the news conference Wednesday, Bivens said there were people intent on helping the fugitive, but law enforcement was able to forestall the aid.
“We had been successful to the best of my knowledge in preventing that assistance from reaching him,” Bivens said. 
Cavalcante illegally immigrated to the U.S. and found himself in Pennsylvania because he had family and friends there. Authorities have been tight-lipped about whether any of them cooperated with police or Cavalcante.
Cavalcante’s sister was arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and could face deportation over “some immigration issues,” Bivens has said. Clark, the deputy U.S. marshal, said Eleni Cavalcante gave police conflicting information while her brother was on the run.
“We believe that she was trying to mislead law enforcement. And she quite possibly had the resources to aid her brother should he be able to get in contact,” Clark told AP. “We thought she needed to be taken out of the equation.”
Ryan said Brandao’s family was relieved and thankful to law enforcement.
“They can now finally sleep again,” Ryan said.
Ryan had said the family had been holed up in their house and terrified during the search for Cavalcante. USA TODAY has reached out to the family.
Days before his escape, Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing Brandao in front of her 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police he was wanted for murder in Brazil. The jury took just 15 minutes to decide his guilt.
Cavalcante was in a relationship with Brandao for about a year and a half and “engaged in a horrific pattern of domestic violence,” Ryan said. He stabbed Brandao 38 times in broad daylight, she said.
“His depravity knows no bounds,” she said the day of his escape.
Cavalcante is accused of fatally shooting 20-year-old Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in November 2017 in the rural municipality of Figueiropolis over an alleged car repair debt, according to records by Brazilian prosecutors in the state of Tocantins. In records, Cavalcante’s first name is listed as “Danilo,” the more traditional Portuguese spelling.
Cavalcante fired several shots at Moreira dos Reis before taking his cellphone and fleeing in a truck, prosecutors said. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement confirmed Cavalcante entered the country illegally.
Rafael Pinto Alamy, a homicide prosecutor on the case, told USA TODAY the case was suspended because Cavalcante fled Brazil. Cavalcante remained a fugitive with a warrant for his arrest issued days after the killing.
Pinto Alamy also confirmed the case has a hearing on Oct. 11 in Gurupi, Tocantins, but said Cavalcante is unlikely to be sent back to his home country if convicted of the 2017 murder because he would face a lesser punishment to the life imprisonment he has been sentenced to in the U.S.
People accused of crimes in Brazil can still be charged even if they aren’t in the country, Marcio Santoro, a federal judge in Rio de Janeiro state, told USA TODAY. The person could appear virtually before a judge and be entitled to a public defender. However, life in prison without parole remains a foreign concept in Brazil, a predominantly Catholic country that maintains concepts of forgiveness, Santoro added.
“We’re happy Danilo has been judged there in the United States,” Moreira dos Reis’ sister, Dayane, told USA TODAY. “Here there’s no justice, there’s no law!”
− Eduardo Cuevas and Will Carless
Carla Moliterno, 53, lives in an apartment building a couple hundred yards from where Cavalcante was found. Her community had been locked down since Monday, her road closed and her daughter’s school shuttered.
Moliterno bolted a window closed in her apartment because it was over a small roof − she feared the fugitive would climb up and try to enter the apartment. She would not let her daughter go out on their deck for fear she would be shot. They remained huddled in the apartment, Moliterno sleeping in her living room because it is closer to her daughter’s bedroom.
“We had constant police activity out front and constant police helicopters overhead,” Moliterno said. “This morning I was thinking, ‘I can’t do this one more day.’”
Hours later, a text came in saying Cavalcante had been captured.
“It was all very traumatizing,” Moliterno said. “There were many tears when it finally ended. I think I might sleep for a month tonight.”
− John Bacon
Cavalcante broke free by “crab-walking” his way up two walls in the exercise yard, breaking through razor wire and running across a roof. A watch tower officer, who has since been fired, didn’t see him slip away.
Security footage shows the moment at about 8:50 a.m. on Aug. 31 when Cavalcante used his outstretched arms and legs to brace himself between the walls and “crab walk” up before disappearing.
It was the second escape from the facility in recent months.
In May, inmate Igor Bolte broke out from the same location in a similar way but was seen by the tower officer on watch and quickly recaptured. Cavalcante’s escape differed in two important ways: He had to get through razor wire that was added after Bolte’s escape, and nobody saw him do it.
Cavalcante’s disappearance was discovered nearly an hour later during an inmate count after the block returned from the yard.
Prison officials have since pledged to increase staff and install a fence to close the space above the prison yard wall that Bolte and Cavalcante scaled.
Contributing: The Associated Press


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