Escaped Pennsylvania Killer Captured
The convicted murderer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison late last month is once again behind bars, now facing additional charges, after a nearly two-week manhunt that captured national attention and put the surrounding community on edge.
Danilo Cavalcante, 34, was sleeping when police found him in the woods of South Coventry Township on Wednesday morning, lying on top of a rifle he had stolen from a nearby resident days earlier, a law enforcement source told CNN.
A helicopter flying above the search area had picked up on a heat signal on the ground, and a tactical team swooped in after a storm cleared out. Cavalcante tried to flee by crawling through thick underbrush with the rifle in hand, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.
A police dog was released on him, biting him and preventing him from using the rifle before police took him into custody, capping a dramatic dayslong manhunt, according to Bivens.
Cavalcante is now being held in a Pennsylvania maximum security prison, State Correctional Institution – Phoenix, in Montgomery County, where he’s to serve a life sentence for his previous murder conviction.
He now also has been charged with felony escape, and is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on September 27, court records show.
An attorney has not been listed on court documents for Cavalcante and the public defender’s office declined to comment at this time. Pennsylvania authorities updated the spelling of Cavalcante’s first name to Danilo in court documents Wednesday.
The inmate, who was convicted last month of first-degree murder for the killing of his former girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison, escaped from Chester County Prison in a rural area some 30 miles west of Philadelphia on August 31.
He managed to evade authorities for 13 days, hunkering down in wooded areas, moving at night, and in the early days, surviving off stream water and a watermelon he found at a farm, authorities said.
During his time on the run, Cavalcante slipped through search perimeters, was spotted inside homes, stole a dairy van, changed his appearance, showed up at the doorsteps of people he knew years ago, stole a firearm and got shot at by a homeowner.
When he was captured in South Coventry Township – roughly 20 miles from the facility he escaped from – Cavalcante had the appearance of someone who was in the woods for an extended period of time, and looked to have been stressed, Bivens said Wednesday.
“Which is exactly what we were trying to do all along,” Bivens said. “The whole point was to keep him stressed, keep him moving, and keep him off his game.”
Cavalcante’s escape was unnerving for many throughout Chester County, said David Sassa, chief county detective.
Sassa, who was one of the detectives to respond to the scene of the murder Cavalcante was convicted of, told CNN’s Laura Coates Wednesday night he was shocked when he learned Cavalcante escaped after his sentencing for the “horrific” killing.
“I was in that trial. I watched him, he showed no emotion. He did not apologize … To see a week later, him escape the way he did was shocking to me,” Sassa said.