WEST CHESTER, PA (FWRD AXIS) – A murderer executed a daring escape from a suburban Philadelphia jail yard, defying guards for a full hour as he scaled a wall, navigated razor wire, and leaped from a rooftop. This audacious breakout unfolded as the fugitive, Danelo Cavalcante, continued to evade a widening manhunt, now entering its seventh day.
Details of Cavalcante’s escape, including his use of the same route employed by another prisoner in May, were disclosed, prompting a massive police response from various agencies. A tower guard responsible for overseeing the escape was placed on leave pending the investigation.
During a press conference, Howard Holland, the acting warden of Chester County Prison, displayed security footage capturing the 34-year-old Cavalcante in a passageway adjacent to the jail yard. The video showed him gripping one wall with his hands and bracing his feet against another, effectively “crab-walking” out of view of the camera.
Holland revealed that after the earlier escape in May, the prison had brought in a consultant and added razor wire to the area. However, it appears the focus on physical countermeasures overlooked the need for additional security measures, a lapse that is now under review. The prison was fully staffed at the time of Cavalcante’s escape.
To enhance security, the prison is considering deploying additional officers during recreation times in the yard and enclosing the top of these yards with cages. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has taken over the escape investigation.
Holland clarified that the previous inmate who escaped in May was quickly returned thanks to a vigilant tower guard who raised the alarm. In contrast, Cavalcante’s disappearance went unnoticed for over an hour after the video was recorded. A public siren was eventually sounded at around 10 a.m.
Holland refrained from commenting on why the guard, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed, failed to observe Cavalcante as he made his rooftop escape and moved away from the prison’s perimeter.
Cavalcante had recently received a life sentence for the 2021 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her children. He escaped while awaiting transfer to a state prison, with prosecutors asserting that he killed her to prevent her from reporting his involvement in a 2017 killing in Brazil.
The search for Cavalcante has disrupted two suburban Philadelphia school districts, and Longwood Gardens, a site where the convict was captured on video traveling through, has been closed. Despite six sightings of him since his escape, including a recent one in a residential area, authorities have been unable to apprehend him.
Officials have urged residents to secure their homes and vehicles, inspect the properties of absent neighbors, and watch for missing cars, bicycles, or other transportation Cavalcante might use.
One homeowner, Ryan Drummond, reported a break-in by a man believed to be Cavalcante, who entered through a faulty lock on the French doors. The intruder departed with some fruit and a white hat, leaving authorities to continue their extensive search as Cavalcante remains at large for a week. The reward for information leading to his recapture has now been increased to $20,000.