PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say an escaped killer who has evaded capture since breaking out of a southeastern Pennsylvania prison a week and a half ago has disappeared from the search area, changed his appearance, stolen a dairy delivery truck and left him miles away and remained at large.
Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said Sunday that Danelo Souza Cavalcante stole the unlocked van with the keys sometime Saturday evening about three-quarters of a mile from the northern edge of the search area, where hundreds of law enforcement officers had been searching for him.
Baily’s Dairy said on its Facebook page that the van was stolen between 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday “while we were still working here.”
The theft went unnoticed for hours, and in the meantime, Cavalcante, 34, traveled more than 20 miles northeast to East Pikeland Township and Phoenixville. Shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, he went to the East Pikeland Township home of a person he worked with several years ago and asked to meet him, police said.
The homeowner, who was at dinner with his family and unresponsive, called police after returning home and viewing his doorbell video. Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, police said, Cavalcante went to the home of another former co-worker in the Phoenixville area who was not home, police said.
Doorbell video showed Cavalcante now clean-shaven and wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball cap, green prison pants and white shoes, police said. The stolen van was found at 10:40 a.m. Sunday in a field behind a barn in East Nantmeal Township, about 15 miles west of Phoenixville.
Bivens said he believes Cavalcante abandoned the vehicle at least in part because it was running low on fuel. While police searched the immediate area for any sign of him, authorities feared he would attempt to obtain another vehicle or had already done so.
“I have no report of a stolen vehicle; I assume we will do that,” he said.
Bivens expressed confidence in the fugitive’s eventual recapture and vowed to “aggressively continue” the search with the help of federal, state, county and local resources.
“This is a small setback,” he said. “We’ll get him, it’s a matter of time”
Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Jail on August 31 while awaiting transfer to state prison after being sentenced to life in prison in 2021 for the fatal stabbing of his ex-girlfriend in his home country of Brazil.
Police reported two more confirmed sightings of Cavalcante on Saturday in the search area around Longwood Gardens Botanical Park, the center of the search in recent days. Bivens said Friday that about 400 people were involved in the search, including tactical teams, sniffer dogs and officers on horseback, as well as aircraft.
Despite the massive searches, Bivens said there were some underground tunnels and “very large drainage ditches” in the area that could not be fully secured. Police planned to deploy nearly 600 men for a “major search” of the search area on Monday, he said.
Authorities have described Cavalcante as extremely dangerous. Police ask anyone with information to call 911. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture.
Authorities announced Friday the firing of the prison guard on duty as Cavalcante, crabbing from the recreation yard, scaled a wall, climbed over barbed wire, ran across a roof and jumped to the ground. His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards conducted a head count.
Cavalcante’s escape and search attracted international attention and made major headlines in Brazil. Prosecutors in Tocantins state say he will be charged with “double homicide” in the 2017 murder of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in Figueirópolis, which was allegedly a debt the victim owed him in connection with the repair of a vehicle.
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