Law Enforcement Agencies Defend Operational Approach in Search for Fugitive Danelo Cavalcante

by Ethan Kim

Pennsylvania authorities, who have been on a nearly two-week-long manhunt for escaped convict Danelo Souza Cavalcante, defended their strategies on Monday, rejecting claims that they missed an opportunity to apprehend him. Officials attributed his elusiveness to the challenging landscape of the initial search area, which consisted of dense forests, subterranean tunnels, and water drainage systems.

Senior state and federal officials stated that it took an extended period—over two hours—to be informed of Cavalcante being sighted outside the originally designated search perimeter for the first time. They pointed out that the nature of the search area—now in its twelfth day—continues to favor them, despite the absence of a clearly marked perimeter or any new leads on the fugitive’s location.

Robert Clark, who supervises the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force in Philadelphia, argued that the law enforcement agencies currently hold the upper hand since Cavalcante has seemingly moved to a less rural area in suburban Philadelphia. “Our focus is now on long-term strategies, which is where we excel,” Clark added.

Additional Coverage

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Over the weekend, Cavalcante managed to escape the designated 8-square-mile (approximately 13-square-kilometer) search zone. He stole a milk delivery van, which had been left unlocked with the keys inside, and drove it until it nearly ran out of fuel. Abandoning the vehicle in a field more than 20 miles (approximately 32 kilometers) away from the original search area, he attempted to solicit help from two ex-colleagues late on Saturday, according to police reports.

Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police refrained from speculating how Cavalcante evaded the initial perimeter but emphasized that no perimeter can be completely secure. Bivens indicated that Cavalcante’s attempts to seek help from long-lost acquaintances demonstrate his desperation. “The more we exert pressure and resources, the closer we get to his capture. He lacks the support network to sustain himself over a long period,” Bivens said.

Cavalcante, aged 34, has been at large since August 31 when he escaped from Chester County Prison. He had been serving a life sentence for the murder of a former girlfriend in 2021 and is also wanted for another murder in his native Brazil. To make his escape, he scaled a wall, maneuvered over razor wire, traversed a rooftop, and descended to the ground, evading detection for over an hour until a headcount was taken. The guard on tower duty has since been dismissed.

Brazilian prosecutors in the state of Tocantins have charged Cavalcante with “double qualified homicide” for a 2017 murder over an outstanding debt. U.S. authorities have labeled him as extremely dangerous, offering a $25,000 reward for information that could lead to his arrest.

Craig Caine, a retired U.S. Marshal who is not involved in the ongoing manhunt, pointed out that difficult terrain, such as woods, is particularly challenging for law enforcement, especially when the fugitive is of smaller stature like Cavalcante, who stands at 5 feet (approximately 152 centimeters).

Despite the challenges, Caine emphasized that it only takes one lucky break for law enforcement to succeed, while the fugitive has to be fortunate every day he remains at large. Lengthy manhunts are not uncommon, often stretching for weeks or even years, he noted.

Bryce Peterson, a researcher in the field of corrections, noted that escaped convicts rarely commit violent acts once on the run. Those serving longer sentences, however, are more inclined to avoid recapture, thereby creating volatile circumstances.

Bivens could not confirm whether Cavalcante is armed but stressed that he poses an extreme risk. State police are authorized to use lethal force if he does not willingly surrender, though different agencies involved might have varying rules of engagement.

Responding to public inquiries about the number of personnel involved in the manhunt, Bivens said, “No matter the number of officers we deploy, those criticizing without firsthand knowledge of the situation will likely remain unsatisfied.” He added that if a thousand officers were required, that would be the number deployed.

No arrests have been made regarding any external assistance to Cavalcante. His sister, however, has been detained by immigration authorities for overstaying her visa and failing to cooperate with the investigation.

Authorities have yet to report any new sightings of Cavalcante and have advised residents in areas where he was last seen to take necessary security precautions.

On Sunday, state police learned that Cavalcante had escaped the initial search area. He is believed to have stolen the van on Saturday evening, and the theft was only discovered after state police informed the vehicle’s owners early Sunday morning.

Cavalcante later made unsuccessful attempts to contact two previous work colleagues, both of whom informed local police, who in turn contacted state police shortly after midnight on Sunday, according to Bivens.

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News correspondent Eléonore Hughes in Rio de Janeiro.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about manhunt for escaped murderer

What is the primary focus of the article?

The article focuses on the ongoing manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante, an escaped murderer in Pennsylvania. It particularly examines the strategies employed by law enforcement agencies and how they defend their approach despite Cavalcante evading capture for nearly two weeks.

Who is Danelo Cavalcante?

Danelo Cavalcante is a 34-year-old fugitive who escaped from the Chester County Prison on August 31. He had been sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021. He is also wanted in Brazil for another slaying.

What challenges are the law enforcement agencies facing?

The agencies face several challenges, including the complex terrain that includes heavy woods, underground tunnels, and drainage ditches. Additionally, Cavalcante has proved to be highly elusive, making it difficult for them to maintain a well-defined search perimeter.

How did Danelo Cavalcante escape?

Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbed over razor wire, ran across a roof, and jumped to the ground. His escape remained undetected for over an hour until a headcount was taken at the prison.

What measures are authorities taking now?

Robert Clark, the supervisor of the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force in Philadelphia, mentioned that they are preparing for the “long game,” implying a sustained, comprehensive search strategy. Residents in areas where Cavalcante was last seen have also been advised to take precautions like locking doors and checking security footage.

Is there a reward for information leading to his capture?

Yes, there is a $25,000 reward being offered for information that leads to the capture of Danelo Cavalcante.

Has anyone been arrested in connection with Cavalcante’s escape?

As of the article’s publication, no one has been arrested for assisting Cavalcante in his escape. However, Cavalcante’s sister was arrested by immigration authorities for overstaying her legally allowed period.

What are experts saying about the situation?

Craig Caine, a retired inspector with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, indicated that wooded terrain makes search operations particularly challenging. Bryce Peterson, who studies corrections, noted that fugitives serving long sentences are often the most volatile and motivated to avoid capture.

More about manhunt for escaped murderer

  • Manhunt Strategy for Fugitives
  • History of Prison Escapes in the U.S.
  • Profile of Danelo Cavalcante
  • Pennsylvania State Police Public Statements
  • U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Forces
  • Chester County Prison Security Measures
  • Fugitives and the Law: What Makes a Successful Manhunt
  • Safety Precautions During Active Manhunts
  • Reward Systems for Information Leading to Fugitive Capture
  • Legal Procedures Following the Capture of an Escaped Convict

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Emily Williams September 12, 2023 - 12:12 am

the article mentions that he’s moved to a less rural area now. Does this make it easier or harder for authorities to catch him?

Robert Clark September 12, 2023 - 2:36 am

I agree with the U.S. Marshal supervisor—got to prepare for the long game. Capturing a fugitive like this takes time and strategy, no quick fixes here.

Linda Morgan September 12, 2023 - 3:23 am

$25,000 reward, huh? That’s tempting but also scary, considering how dangerous this man is.

Sarah Thompson September 12, 2023 - 4:57 am

kinda scary to think this dude is still at large. Especially with how desperate he seems to be, reaching out to old contacts and all.

Mike Stevens September 12, 2023 - 7:37 am

What happened to the prison’s security? Scaling walls and jumping over razor wire. Sounds like something out of a movie!

Karen Green September 12, 2023 - 12:17 pm

Sad to hear that his sister got arrested too, but if she’s not cooperating, what choice do authorities have?

John Miller September 12, 2023 - 4:51 pm

So they’ve been searching for nearly two weeks and still no sign of this guy? What’s going on with our law enforcement?

Tim Daniels September 12, 2023 - 6:55 pm

it’s easy to criticize the cops, but imagine searching dense forests and tunnels for one person. Not exactly a walk in the park.

Dave Adams September 12, 2023 - 8:23 pm

Interesting point about how most fugitives don’t commit violence once they’ve escaped. Kinda contradicts the public’s general fear about escapees.


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