Chester County resident wants to help find escaped prisoner: 'I fear for the safety of everyone'

Police are asking residents to leave the searching up to the authorities.

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Friday, September 8, 2023
Chester County resident joins search for escaped murder convict
Chester County resident joins search for escaped murder convict

POCOPSON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- An escaped murderer on the run in southeast Pennsylvania has so far eluded hundreds of law officers - including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, cops on horseback and aircraft - as the search entered its second week Thursday and nervous residents stayed alert for any sign of the fugitive.

Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a 34-year-old from Brazil, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. The breakout mirrored an earlier escape there in May and wasn't detected by guards for a full hour, authorities say.

Since the escape, there have been eight sightings that police believe could be Cavalcante, the latest around noon Thursday, said state police Lt. Col. George Bivens.

A civilian saw someone who looked like Cavalcante running through an area near Longwood Gardens, one of the country's top botanical gardens. A surveillance camera on a trail had captured Cavalcante walking through the garden grounds Monday night.

SEE ALSO: Danelo Cavalcante escape: Another possible sighting of murder convict; Longwood Gardens closes early

Residents were on edge but comforted by the police presence.

"I've never felt more scared and more safe at the same time. It's a really strange feeling," said Jennie Brown, whose neighborhood is about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the jail.

But some residents like Ryan Stiles are getting frustrated and are now joining in on the hunt for Cavalcante.

"I fear for the safety of everyone. My mom lives here. I have family friends who live here so, it's getting ridiculous," he said.

On Thursday, he grabbed his pistol and went into the woods to start his own search. He says he's familiar with the terrain and has an idea of where to look.

TIMELINE: Everything we know about the prison break in Chester County

"I have a feeling with how hot it's been the last couple of days. Basically I'm going to be trekking up and down the Brandywine River here because he needs water. You can't live without water," said Stiles.

Police are asking residents to leave the searching up to the authorities.

"I would ask them not to do it. I can't prevent them from doing it. But they have no authority and run the risk of, depending on what action they take, getting themselves in trouble," said Bivens.

Cavalcante received a life sentence last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children in 2021. He escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison. Prosecutors say he killed her to prevent her from telling police that he's wanted in a 2017 killing back in Brazil.

Authorities believe he was trying to return to Brazil after the ex-girlfriend's murder. He was captured in Virginia.

Convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante escaped the Chester County Prison in Pocopson Township, Pennsylvania.

How residents can help

Residents are being asked to secure their property, check on neighbors and keep an eye on security cameras. Call police if you see anything suspicious.

How to report Cavalcante info to police

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the U.S. Marshals' Tipline at 877-WANTED-2. There is a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to Cavalcante's capture.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.