Escaped Killer Alters Appearance, Evades Capture in Intense Manhunt

As an intense US manhunt for an escaped killer entered its 11th day, Pennsylvania authorities on Sunday released security camera pictures showing the man had slipped through a search perimeter and changed his look.

Danelo Cavalcante’s escape from the Chester County Prison in the northeastern US state sparked a huge search, with hundreds of law enforcement officers as well as helicopters, drones, and search dogs out in force, while fearful locals locked their doors. But photos released Sunday showed the 34-year-old Brazilian national was no longer sporting the dark beard and mustache seen in his original “wanted” poster.

“He is now clean-shaven and was wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball-style hat, green prison pants, and white shoes,” said a statement from the Pennsylvania State Police.

Authorities posted four pictures of Cavalcante, all apparently taken by a door-mounted camera as he stood or sat on a house porch. Police said the convicted murderer had reportedly been seen overnight near the town of Phoenixville, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the prison and about 30 miles northwest of the major metropolis of Philadelphia. Phoenixville is the town where Cavalcante killed his girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in April 2021. He had lived nearby. Authorities had previously said that Brandao’s relatives in the area were under 24-hour protection.

Police said Sunday that the escapee was driving a 2020 White Ford Transit van, reportedly stolen from a dairy in West Chester. But he abandoned it apparently because of a lack of fuel, said Lt. Col, George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Early Sunday, a reporter for the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia who drove through the area said the only cars seen on the road were from law enforcement agencies. Police carrying long guns were checking the area in the pre-dawn dark. There have been several sightings of the convict so far, including some in which he was shirtless.

This week state and local police as well as federal authorities searched in Kennett Square in suburban Philadelphia, where the fugitive had been seen near a botanical garden. They used drones, helicopters, and sniffer dogs, but he still gave them the slip.

“No perimeter is 100 percent secure, ever,” said Bivens, explaining the failure to catch the man. “Unfortunately there are a lot of circumstances. There are a lot of issues associated with that property. Tunnels, very large drainage ditches, things that could not be secured,” he added. Bivens said bad weather hampered the search from the air.

“In the end, I am confident we will capture him,” Bivens said. He said Cavalcante had tried to contact two acquaintances in the Phoenixville area and they called the police. Bivens said the fugitive’s sister, who was in the country without papers, has been arrested.

On Wednesday, prison officials released a video showing how Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, was able to make his escape. It shows the convict, then wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, crab-walking up two parallel walls and then climbing to the roof before making his way over two razor-wire fences.

Changing Appearance and Eluding Capture

Danelo Cavalcante, the escaped killer, managed to alter his appearance significantly, complicating the efforts to track him down. The security camera pictures released by Pennsylvania authorities revealed that he had shaved off his dark beard and mustache. Instead, he was seen wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball-style hat, green prison pants, and white shoes.

Recent Sightings Near Phoenixville

Despite the extensive manhunt, Cavalcante has been spotted near the town of Phoenixville, approximately 20 miles north of the prison and 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Phoenixville is the same town where he committed the murder that led to his imprisonment, and authorities had previously taken precautions to protect the victim’s relatives in the area.

Abandoned Stolen Vehicle

After escaping, Cavalcante was driving a stolen 2020 White Ford Transit van, which was later abandoned, possibly due to running out of fuel. Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police provided this information.

Challenges in the Search

The intensive search for the escaped convict has faced various challenges. According to Bivens, no perimeter can ever be completely secure, and the terrain around the area where Cavalcante was last seen presents difficulties such as tunnels and large drainage ditches. Additionally, bad weather has hindered aerial search efforts.

Contact Attempts and Arrest

Cavalcante attempted to contact two acquaintances in the Phoenixville area, leading to their notification of the police. Furthermore, his sister, who was in the country without proper documentation, has been arrested in connection with the case.

Prison Escape Video

Prison officials have released a video demonstrating how Cavalcante managed to escape from custody. The video reveals that he crawled up two parallel walls, eventually reaching the roof, and then navigated over two razor-wire fences.


The escape of Danelo Cavalcante has triggered an extensive manhunt, with law enforcement agencies employing various resources to locate and apprehend him. Despite his altered appearance, authorities remain determined to bring him to justice and ensure the safety of the community.

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