Escaped inmate caught on trail cam at Philly-area botanical garden; schools closed amid manhunt

Danelo Cavalcante broke out of the Chester County Prison, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, Thursday evening.

ByLauren Mascarenhas and LJ Spaet, CNN, CNNWire
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Manhunt for escaped Chester County prisoner prompts school closures
Manhunt for escaped Chester County prisoner prompts school closures

POCOPSON TWP., Penn. -- The manhunt for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante has expanded and two school districts have closed after the convicted murderer was spotted outside the original search area, Pennsylvania police said Tuesday.

Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison on Thursday and authorities began by scouring a heavily wooded area in Pocopson Township and Chester County that's within 2 miles of the prison - around 30 miles west of Philadelphia.

Police have now expanded the perimeter of the search area after a security camera recorded Cavalcante at Longwood Gardens on Monday evening. That's south of where the previously established perimeter was, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said during a news conference Tuesday.

Cavalcante was spotted by a security camera Monday night at 8:21 p.m. He was walking north and was seen heading back south at 9:33 p.m.

While Cavalcante's appearance was unchanged, Bivens said he had obtained some items, including a backpack, a "duffel-sling type pack," and a hooded sweatshirt.

FULL PRESS CONFERENCE: Authorities provide update on search for escaped prisoner in Chester County.

A popular tourist spot, Longwood Gardens, boasts over 200 acres of "lush, formal gardens, open meadows, and winding paths." The attraction is closed Tuesday as police search the property and surrounding area.

There had been five "credible sightings" of Cavalcante within the previous search radius, Bivens said.

MORE: PA resident says escaped murderer broke into my house, stole fruit

Pocopson Township resident believes escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante was in his home

"We believe he is just south of that radius, and we have shifted the perimeter," Bivens said. Police are eliminating the northern end of the previous perimeter and shifting the search area south of Route 1.

Cavalcante, 34, was convicted of first-degree murder on August 16 of killing his former girlfriend, 33-year-old Deborah Brando, in 2021. He was sentenced to life without parole.

School districts on alert

Two school districts announced they will be closed Tuesday after authorities said the manhunt had widened.

Kennett Consolidated School District, which is about 9 miles from the prison, and Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, about 5 miles from the prison, both announced they will be closed Tuesday. "We were informed early this morning by law enforcement that the search situation has evolved and out of an abundance of caution, schools and offices will be closed today," said the superintendent of Kennett Consolidated School District.

SEE ALSO: Timeline: Everything we know about the prison break in PA

"The district has received information that the status of the situation with the escaped prisoner has changed. Schools and offices are closed today and the district will operate on a Flexible Instructional Day," Unionville-Chadds Ford School District announced.

The police dragnet had previously focused on a deeply wooded area near the prison, Robert Clark, supervisory deputy US Marshal for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said at a Monday news conference. By then there had been four sightings of the escaped inmate within a 1.5- to 2-mile radius of the prison, said Clark.

Danelo Cavalcante

Cavalcante is also wanted in a 2017 homicide case in Brazil, which led to him fleeing the country, said Clark. Authorities previously said they were looking into whether Cavalcante had inside help to escape.

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