'Extremely dangerous' man convicted of murder escapes from Chester County Prison

Danelo Cavalcante was convicted for fatally stabbing his 33-year-old former girlfriend in April 2021.

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Friday, September 1, 2023
'Extremely dangerous' escaped prisoner remains on the loose
Pennsylvania prison escape: Prisoner Danelo Cavalcante escapes from Chester County Prison, search underway

POCOPSON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A man convicted of fatally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her children escaped Thursday from the Chester County Prison in Pocopson Township, Pennsylvania and remains on the loose.

The escapee has been identified as 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante.

Officials said Friday afternoon they believe he is still in the area.

"There is no evidence at this time that anyone has helped to facilitate this escape, or is assisting him at this time," said District Attorney Deb Ryan. "We believe he is hiding here locally and he is alone."

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

Ryan said investigators believe Cavalcante is heading south.

"We will find him no matter how long it takes," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the U.S. Marshals' Tipline at 877-WANTED-2.

There is a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to Cavalcante's capture.

News conference on search for escaped prisoner in Chester County on Friday, September 1.

Meanwhile, West Chester University said Friday it has canceled all remaining classes and all buildings will require a WCU ID for access or a physical key.

The university, which is about six miles away from the prison, said it made this decision out of "an abundance of caution."

"All non-essential personnel are permitted to shift to remote work for the remainder of the day. Students living in the residence halls will receive updated guidance via separate communication. Food services will remain available to all students. Do not forget your WCU ID when seeking access to all buildings," the university said.

The escape happened around 8:50 a.m. Thursday, the Chester County District Attorney's Office says.

Cavalcante was last seen walking on Wawaset Road in Pocopson Township around 9:40 a.m.

A jury took just 15 minutes to convict Cavalcante of killing Deborah Brandao, his girlfriend of two years, at her home in Schuylkill Township in April 2021.

Prosecutors said he was angry that she planned to disclose a murder charge he faced in his native Brazil, and he stabbed her 38 times.

Officials confirm he is wanted for a 2017 murder in Brazil.

"His depravity knows no bounds. This is a person who has nothing to lose," Ryan said during a Thursday news conference. "I don't know what he is capable of doing. If he's already engaged in murder in broad daylight in front of her two children there is no stopping him from doing something more egregious."

News conference on Chester County Prison escape

He was sentenced to life in prison on Aug. 22 and was awaiting a transfer to state prison.

Howard Holland, the acting warden of the prison, said Thursday an investigation is underway into how the escape happened.

"Once we knew we had an issue with an inmate not being there, we immediately followed our protocols, locked down the prison, did what we call a special count to confirm there was only one person missing," Holland said.

Cavalcante is five feet tall and weighs 120 pounds with long, shaggy black curly hair and brown eyes.

Danelo Cavalcante

He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt with grey shorts with white sneakers. He is a Brazilian man who speaks Portuguese and Spanish and some English.

Cavalcante has family in Phoenixville and his victim's family is also in Phoenixville. Police have been in contact with them.

Authorities say after Cavalcante murdered his ex-girlfriend, his family helped him flee. Investigators are warning his family members they too will be prosecuted if they are helping him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.