"I hope they catch this guy": Residents on edge as search for escaped Pennsylvania prisoner drags on

Security checkpoints have been established around the search area in South Coventry Township.

Caroline Goggin Image
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Residents on edge as search for escaped Pennsylvania prisoner drags on
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SOUTH COVENTRY TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The ongoing search for escaped Pennsylvania prisoner Danelo Cavalcante brought new developments Tuesday, but similar concerns for residents.

Cavalcante was spotted at least twice on Monday night. In once incident he was able to steal a rifle, and police now consider him armed.

County officials said a reverse 911 call went out to people who live within the search area on Tuesday morning. Police quickly established a perimeter and closed roads by Route 100 and Route 23.

Giuseppe Gatto, who owns Bravo Pizza in Pughtown, said he was forced to close his business for the day when part of Route 100 was shut down to the public.

"Talking to my customers the last couple days, we're afraid. They're afraid. I'm afraid. He could be at somebody's house. He could be at somebody's business," Gatto said to Action News. "I hope they catch this guy."

Pennsylvania State Police said Cavalcante stole the rifle from a garage off Coventryville Road. Emma de Long owns a farm located near that garage.

"Immediately when I found out he was armed and dangerous in our area, we called off work," de Long, the owner of Kneehigh Farm, said when we spoke with her over Zoom.

On Tuesday afternoon, Chopper 6 captured officers as they combed through her property. De Long said she ensured everything was locked and secured before she left.

She described this entire situation as "surreal."

Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante now armed with rifle, police say

"Usually you hear these people who escape, and you find them in orchards or citrus groves, and anywhere near water where there's a food source, and vehicles that are usually unlocked with keys in them. That's the best place to go. So I feel like the local farms are really targeted," de Long said.

She also said this manhunt poses challenges for local farmers within the search perimeter who need to keep up with their crops, livestock and shipments.

"We have wholesale accounts we need to harvest for, so we're just really backlogged now and it's a shame," she explained. "One week we lose thousands of dollars in produce, and for a small farm our size, it's a huge loss."

Security checkpoints have been established around the search area in South Coventry Township. They are similar to the ones implemented when the search was focused in Pocopson and East Marlborough townships.

Anyone who needs to pass the perimeter to get home has to have their car inspected.

Jourdan Wilkerson, who lives in Pottstown, stopped by the corner of Routes 100 and 23 to see the police perimeter.

"It's a little scary because we've got kids around here and everything, but for the most part, it looks like they've got everything under control," he said.

During a press conference on Tuesday morning, state police said they believe Cavalcante is likely still in northern Chester County.

RELATED: Video shows inmate's escape from Chester Co. Prison; timeline of breakout revealed

Stunning video shows how convicted murderer escaped Chester Co. Prison

Residents told Action News they hope officials can pinpoint Cavalcante's exact location and recapture the convicted murderer.

"It is day 13. It's hard on the community, and hard on the police officers and all the people volunteering as well," Maryanne Yackel, of Phoenixville, said. "It's exasperating."

State police are asking anyone with information about the search for Cavalcante to immediately call 911 or their dedicated tipline, 717-562-2987.

Officials announced on Monday that the reward for information that leads to his capture has increased to $25,000.