State police update on escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante: now armed, ‘extremely dangerous’

State police are urging people in Chester County to lock their doors and remain inside after an escaped murderer was seen in the area.

Danelo Souza Cavalcante broke out of the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 and has evaded capture ever since. Authorities describe him as extremely dangerous.

Authorities say he was sighted in Chester County’s South Coventry Township Monday night. That’s about 20 miles away from the prison.

During a news conference Tuesday, Lt. Col. George Bivens provided an update on the manhunt. Bivens said a motorist believed they saw Cavalcante around 8 p.m. Monday. Soon after, searchers found what they believe were his prison-issued shoes in the area, and a report that work boots were stolen from a porch followed.

Just after 10 p.m., Cavalcante entered a garage and grabbed a 22-gauge rifle. The homeowner shot at him but Cavalcante was able to get away with the gun, which is outfitted with a scope and a flashlight, Bivens said.

Teams have been working around the clock to find Cavalcante, including K9s and aviation units. About 500 officers are searching an approximately 8-square mile area, Bivens said, with more officers being called in to close roads and set up checkpoints to search vehicles.

“We will actively hunt until we find him,” Bivens said.

Schools in the area were closed as the manhunt continued. Bivens said if anyone encounters Cavalcante, they should not approach him and call 911 immediately.

State police have been authorized to use deadly force if Cavalcante doesn’t actively surrender.

Cavalcante had been sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021, allegedly to stop her from telling police that he’s wanted for a murder in his home country of Brazil.

He was able to escape from prison nearly two weeks ago by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. The breakout wasn’t noticed by guards for an hour, authorities say.

On Monday, officials pushed back against questions about whether they missed a chance to catch Cavalcante, saying that the area where hundreds had been searching includes heavy woods and underground tunnels.

Cavalcante was able to slip out of the search area over the weekend. He stole a dairy delivery van that had been left unlocked with the keys in it. He abandoned it more than 20 miles away from the search area and tried to get help at the homes of two former colleagues late Saturday, police said.

State police declined to say how they think Cavalcante slipped through the perimeter, but said no perimeter is completely secure.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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