Escaped Pennsylvania inmate still believed to be within specific perimeter, police say

Sep 12, 2023, 4:09 AM | Updated: 5:12 pm

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Escaped murderer Danelo Souza Cavalcante is still believed to be within a search perimeter in a rural stretch of southeastern Pennsylvania hours after he stole a rifle from a garage and fled a homeowner’s gunfire, authorities said Tuesday.

Heavily armed police descended on the South Coventry Township area closing roads and telling residents to lock their doors in the nearly 2-week-old manhunt. In the evening, Pennsylvania State Police said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Cavalcante was believed to be in the area of Routes 23 and 100, Fairview and Nantmeal Roads and Iron Bridge and County Park Roads.

“Residents should secure buildings, property and vehicles,” police said. “Report sightings or related activity immediately to 911.”

Helicopters hovered overhead throughout the day as officers brought in horses, search dogs and armored personnel carriers and began searching an 8- to 10-square-mile (21- to 26-square-kilometer) area of rolling farm country, forests and parkland northwest of Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens vowed to “hunt until we find” Cavalcante, but also cautioned that it will take a “long time” to methodically search the entire area.

Cavalcante entered an open garage late Monday, stole a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition and fled when the homeowner, who was in the garage, drew a pistol and shot at him several times, Bivens said at a news conference. He added that he has no reason to believe Cavalcante was injured by the gunfire.

Bivens said he believes Cavalcante was fleeing from pursuers and looking for a place to hide when he saw the open garage.

“The garage door was open. He didn’t, I believe, recognize that the owner was in there. And I think he was probably looking for a place to hide, ran for that garage, saw the firearm, grabbed that, encountered the homeowner and fled with the firearm,” Bivens said.

It was, he said, a “crime of opportunity.”

About 500 law enforcement personnel were searching or guarding the new search area in northern Chester County, a few miles south of Pottstown, Bivens said. More were being called in as schools closed and officers shut down roads, manned checkpoints and stopped vehicles to question motorists and open trunks.

Two hours before the garage encounter, Bivens said, a motorist alerted police to a man matching Cavalcante’s description crouching in the darkness along a line of trees near a road. Police found footprints there, followed their trail and found the prison shoes Cavalcante had been wearing. A pair of work boots was reported stolen from a porch nearby.

Cavalcante, 34, broke out of the Chester County jail Aug. 31 while awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021. Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police that he was wanted in a slaying in Brazil, his home country.

Prosecutors there, in Tocantins state, said Cavalcante is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 killing of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in the municipality of Figueiropolis, over a debt the victim owed him for repairing a vehicle.

To escape the Chester County lockup, Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbing over razor wire, running across a roof and jumping to the ground. His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a head count. The tower guard on duty was fired, officials said.

A $25,000 reward was offered for information leading to his capture.

Residents in the area said they are frustrated and nervous.

Jason Mesiarik was outside his barn on his farm late Monday when he heard six or seven gunshots from what he believes was a neighbor’s encounter with Cavalcante.

“I was just finishing up feeding at the barn, and I stepped outside, was checking my Twitter feed, and that’s when I heard like, like the six or seven, the shots ring out and I knew it was like one of two or three houses just across the road,” Mesiarik said.

He called police to report it and helicopters promptly began circling, he said. Around 2 a.m., heavily armed police knocked on his door and swept the barns. Police were still there on his road at dawn and swept the property several hours later, he said.

Todd McFarland said his dog barked for an hour because of the helicopters. Last week he was stopped by state police who searched his white Ford Transit van after Cavalcante stole a similar vehicle. At the time, McFarland had no idea an escaped murderer was on the loose.

“I don’t understand why they can’t find him, truthfully,” he said Tuesday. “I think everybody’s a little frustrated.”

Kathleen Brady, who lives within view of where Cavalcante was seen crouching near a road, endured an anxious and largely sleepless night. Sirens sounded, helicopters circled overhead and rifle-toting police walked through her yard. She and her child plan to stay with friends — outside of the search area — if he isn’t caught.

“You don’t know how desperate he is at this point. If he thinks this is the end, he has a lot to lose,” Brady said. “Will he take someone hostage? Will he hold them at gunpoint to take their car? Will he come and just try to take their house to get some time? You don’t know. It’s terrifying.”

Bivens has said state police are authorized to use deadly force if Cavalcante doesn’t surrender but noted that other agencies involved in the search may have their own rules.

On Saturday, Cavalcante slipped out of an earlier 8-square-mile (13-square-kilometer) search area and stole a dairy delivery van that had been left unlocked with the keys in it.

He abandoned it more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north after nearly running out of fuel and unsuccessfully seeking help at the homes of two former colleagues late that same day, police said, in what they called a desperate quest for help.

Bivens declined to say how he thinks Cavalcante escaped the first search perimeter, and officials have pushed back against questions about whether they blew a chance to catch him.

Bivens has declined to discuss whether Cavalcante has received assistance from others, but said no arrests have been made. Encircled by police, Bivens said Tuesday, Cavalcante can’t get any such help.

“At this point, I believe he is beyond assistance and he is in that perimeter and we will actively hunt until we find him,” Bivens said.


Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Associated Press reporter Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania contributed.

United States News

Hudson, 7, left, Callahan, 13, middle, and Keegan Pruente, 10, right, stand outside their school on...

Associated Press

More schools are adopting 4-day weeks. For parents, the challenge is day 5

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — It’s a Monday in September, but with schools closed, the three children in the Pruente household have nowhere to be. Callahan, 13, contorts herself into a backbend as 7-year-old Hudson fiddles with a balloon and 10-year-old Keegan plays the piano. Like a growing number of students around the U.S, the Pruente […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Sydney Carney walks through her home, which was destroyed by a wildfire on Aug. 11, 2023, in...

Associated Press

Residents prepare to return to sites of homes demolished in Lahaina wildfire 7 weeks ago

HONOLULU (AP) — From just outside the burn zone in Lahaina, Jes Claydon can see the ruins of the rental home where she lived for 13 years and raised three children. Little remains recognizable beyond the jars of sea glass that stood outside the front door. On Monday, officials are expected to begin lifting restrictions […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Kidnapped teen rescued from Southern California motel room after 4 days of being held hostage

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities rescued a 17-year-old boy in Southern California after he was kidnapped and held hostage for four days by captors who threatened to harm him if his family did not pay a $500,000 ransom. The teen was rescued Friday after law enforcement tracked him and his three kidnappers to a […]

7 hours ago

This Aug. 17, 2021 photo shows Quagga mussels cover the engine of a Bell P-39 Airacobra military pl...

Associated Press

Historians race to find Great Lakes shipwrecks before quagga mussels destroy the sites

An invasive mussel is destroying shipwrecks deep in the depths of the lakes, forcing archeologists and amateur historians into a race against time to find as many sites as they can before the region touching eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario loses any physical trace of its centuries-long maritime history.

7 hours ago

A sign marks a roadside rest stop that has been made to look like the historic security gate that a...

Associated Press

Birthplace of the atomic bomb braces for its biggest mission since the top-secret Manhattan Project

Los Alamos was the perfect spot for the U.S. government’s top-secret Manhattan Project.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Suspect arrested after shooting at the Oklahoma State Fair injures 1, police say

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One person was injured when shots were fired during an argument between two groups of people at the Oklahoma State Fair on Saturday, sending a crowd of people running for safety, police said. One person was arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon after the evening shooting, Oklahoma […]

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.

Escaped Pennsylvania inmate still believed to be within specific perimeter, police say