Authorities try to flush out escaped murderer in suburban Philadelphia manhunt


WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Two suburban Philadelphia school districts remained shuttered and one of the nation’s premier botanical gardens was closed Wednesday as authorities worked to flush out a convicted murderer who escaped from prison last week.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, has been spotted five times since he escaped Thursday from the Chester State Prison. The most recent sighting came Monday night at Longwood Gardens, where trail surveillance video captured him walking through the area with a duffel bag, backpack and hooded sweatshirt he apparently stole while on the run.

That sighting led officials to move the search area farther south on Tuesday after they determined that Cavalcante had likely slipped through the original perimeter set by hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers, but they said his movements show he’s feeling the pressure of the massive search and that his options are dwindling.

The ongoing manhunt forced officials in two school districts within the large search area to cancel classes for a second straight day, citing “an overabundance of caution.” Longwood Gardens, which is closed on Tuesdays, cited the same reason in announcing it would not open Wednesday.

Authorities have urged residents to keep their homes and vehicles locked, to check the properties of vacationing neighbors and to look out for missing cars, bicycles or any other mode of transportation Cavalcante might use.

Authorities haven’t disclosed how Cavalcante managed to escape, saying it is under investigation. He was sentenced to life in prison last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children, and escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison.

A jury convicted Cavalcante of murdering Deborah Brandao in 2021. He is also wanted in his native Brazil in a 2017 killing and is considered extremely dangerous, authorities said.

Prosecutors say he killed his ex-girlfriend to stop her from telling police about the charges against him in Brazil. He was captured in Virginia after Brandao’s killing and authorities believe he was trying to return to Brazil.

The prison he escaped from is roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.

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