Danelo Cavalcante, the convicted killer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison, was seen overnight Saturday, according to state police, who said the fugitive had “changed his appearance” as the manhunt enters its 11th day.
“He is now clean-shaven and wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, green prison pants, and white shoes,” Pennsylvania State Police said in a statement early Sunday, adding he was spotted near in northern Chester County near Phoenixville.
Cavalcante, 34, is also said to be driving a 2020 white Ford Transit van with Pennsylvania plates and a refrigeration unit on top, according to police. The van had been reported stolen by a local dairy farm, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office said.
Nearly 400 officers have joined the round-the-clock search operation for Cavalcante, who fled Chester County Prison on August 31 by “crab walking” between two walls, scaling a fence and traversing razor wire.
The sighting Saturday is just the latest: Police Lt. Col. George Bivens, who is leading the search, told reporters Friday there had been “probably eight or nine” other credible sightings since Cavalcante’s escape. Two sightings on Friday were confirmed within the general perimeter where tactical teams, K-9 dogs and a helicopter are scouring for any sign of the fugitive, according to Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James Grothey.
Cavalcante’s escape came about two weeks after he was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2021 killing of his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandão, 33, in Chester County. Authorities said Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her two children, who are now in the care of her sister.
Cavalcante is also wanted in a 2017 homicide case in Brazil, his native country, a US Marshals Service official has said.
The inmate’s escape from the prison about 30 miles west of Philadelphia has instilled fear within his victim’s family and distressed nearby residents like Ryan Drummond, who told CNN he saw Cavalcante in his Pocopson Township home the night of September 1.
Describing it as an “acute moment of terror,” Drummond said he heard noise in his house and noticed an old French door off the side of their deck was slightly ajar.
“That’s when my stomach dropped,” he told CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
Drummond told his wife to call 911, he said, and saw Cavalcante “walking methodically” out of the kitchen into his living room before leaving the house via the French door.
Cavalcante was seen in or around Chester County’s Longwood Gardens – about 3 miles from the prison – several times last week. On September 2, the fugitive was seen on surveillance video about 1.5 miles from the prison, authorities said. On Monday, a security camera recorded the fugitive at Longwood Gardens, authorities said.
An area resident then reported seeing Cavalcante on Tuesday in a creek bed on the resident’s property. On Wednesday, a trail camera image showed Cavalcante in or around Longwood Gardens, but officials learned about this sighting Thursday evening, according to Bivens.
Guests were asked to leave the botanical gardens Thursday as the entire venue closed for the manhunt. Police swarmed the botanical gardens, but did not catch the killer.
Despite Cavalcante’s elusive streak, Bivens said he is confident the fugitive will be caught.
“We’ve got a large perimeter secured,” he said Friday. “That is a pretty secure perimeter that we can push hard against with the tactical team.”