Pocopson Township resident believes escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante was in his home

"I woke up my wife and said, 'I think there might be someone downstairs,'" recalled Ryan Drummond.

Maggie Kent Image
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Pocopson Township resident believes escaped killer was in his home
Pocopson Township resident believes escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante was in his home

POCOPSON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Investigators are urging residents to stay vigilant as the search intensifies for an escaped prisoner who was convicted of murder.

Federal and local law enforcement have been searching for 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante since his 8:50 a.m. escape on Thursday.

Lt. Col. George Bevins, deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police, said at a news conference Monday afternoon that Cavalcante was spotted Sunday afternoon from a distance by a state trooper, who gave chase but lost him. Bevins said it was the fourth credible sighting of Cavalcante in Pocopson Township since his escape from the Chester County Prison.

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Police have responded to well over 100 tips from neighbors in the area, including allegations of possible break-ins to residential homes in the vicinity within a one to two-mile radius of the prison.

Ryan Drummond claims he saw Cavalcante inside his home on Friday night around 11:45 p.m.

"I woke up my wife and said, 'I think there might be someone downstairs,'" recalled Drummond.

After hearing a rustling downstairs, Drummond says he rushed to his upstairs landing.

FULL PRESS CONFERENCE: Authorities provide update on search for escaped prisoner in Chester County.

"What I decided to do was flip the switch three or four or five times, paused, and then he flipped a light switch from downstairs. This was the moment of, 'Oh my God this guy is down there,'" said Drummond.

After making sure his children were sleeping in his bed, Drummond says he watched Cavalcante walk out of his home.

SEE ALSO: Escaped killer's mom pleads with him to surrender as new sightings emerge in search: Police

"I saw him walk out of the kitchen through our living room, open up that door, (and) walked out. He was wearing a white shirt, had a bag," he added.

Police arrived but the man escaped back into the thick wood and brush after taking some food.

"Peaches, apples, green snap peas were missing. We have a bunch of little steak knives and he could have taken one of those," said Drummond.

Investigators are urging residents to stay on alert.

"We are requesting that residents in the area of Pocopson Township remain inside. Lock your doors, lock your cars. He is still considered an extremely dangerous individual. There is evidence to suggest that he's still in that local residence. We do not believe he has gotten more than one to two miles away from the prison," said Chester County DA Deb Ryan.

SEE ALSO: Timeline: Everything we know about the prison break in Chester County

Bevins said the trooper spotted Cavalcante in the same general area where the fugitive was recorded on a Ring doorbell camera early Saturday lurking in a residential neighborhood about 1.5 miles from the Chester County Prison.

"He is desperate. He does not want to be caught. He has very little to lose at this time," Bevins said of Cavalcante, who officials said is also wanted in his native Brazil on homicide charges.

He said search efforts are intensifying with more resources being deployed in hopes of pressuring Cavalcante to the point he gives up or makes a mistake.

"I intend to stress him. I want to push him hard. He'll make mistakes. He'll show himself. He's already shown himself, we believe, a few times," Bevins said.

Bevins said investigators got Cavalcante's mother to record a message asking her son to surrender peacefully. He said the message was being broadcast from police helicopters and vehicles in the search area.

He said the message from Cavalcante's mother, who is from Brazil, is recorded in her native language of Portuguese.

Danelo Cavalcante was spotted on surveillance video Saturday morning on the 1800 block of Lenape Road in Pocopson Township, about 1.5 miles from the Chester County Prison.

Cavalcante's escape came about a week after he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 38-year-old Deborah Brandao, who prosecutors said was stabbed 38 times in front of her two young children, ages 4 and 7, at a home in Schuylkill Township. A Chester County jury convicted Cavalcante after just 15 minutes of deliberations.

Prosecutors said Brandao was killed after she learned Cavalcante was wanted for murder in Brazil and threatened to expose him to police.

Following Brandao's murder, Cavalcante fled to Virginia, where he was arrested and brought back to Pennsylvania to face justice for Brandao's killing.

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison on Thursday. He was discovered missing from the prison around 8:50 a.m. He was being held there pending transfer to a state correctional institution.

The escape remains under investigation by the Chester County District Attorney's Office and the state police.

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.