Manhunt seems to have narrowed focus to wooded area near prison

PENNSBURY– Law enforcement officers looking to capture escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante appeared to have narrowed the area of their search as of Monday morning, seemingly concentrating their efforts on the rural village of Parkersville.

“It looks like we’re squeezing him,” said one officer stationed at a road block round 8 a.m., although the manhunt continued with no timeline for for its conclusion. The District Attorney’s Office has scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m., but there is no indication what information will be provided then.

Traffic was restricted on Route 926, or Street Road, from Parkersville Road to the east and Conservatory Road to the west, and south along Creek Road from Wawaset Road abutting Longwood Gardens. Some of the roadblocks were manned by state police or Chester County Sheriff’s vehicles, while others were unmanned.

A social media post showed what appeared to be the flight pattern of a helicopter from the state police at Reading pictured a circling over the area around 5:45 a.m. before it returned to refuel at 6 a.m. Others said they could hear an airplane circling.

Police searching the backyard of a Pocospn home for escapee Danelo Cavalcante.

Courtesy photo

Police searching the backyard of a Pocopson home for escapee Danelo Cavalcante. (Courtesy photo)

Parkersville is an area that features many places where a person could hide, although there is no telling for how long or what other resources — such as water or food — it would provide. There are deep woods, secluded glens and valleys, rolling hills and set-back homes — some centuries old, some newly developed — with outbuildings and unused, abandoned structures.

It is part of the world of the Wyeth art family, the gardens of Pierre DuPont, and of high-end senior living facilities at Kendal Crosslands. Longwood Gardens, closed on Saturday and Sunday, decided to reopen its gates on Monday.

It is also only a mile or two from the Chester County Prison itself, where Cavalcante had been incarcerated since his arrest for the stabbing death of his former girlfriend in front of her two children in April 2021. The prison — a 1,110 bed facility that has stood on Wawaset Road for decades — is also where he was awaiting transfer to a state prison to begin serving his life-without-parole sentence when he escaped around 8 a.m. Thursday.

“As we’ve indicated, this is a person who has evaded law enforcement for years for a homicide in Brazil,” Chester County District Attorney Deborah Ryan said Saturday. “He’s escaped from a prison. He escaped the first time when he killed (his girlfriend) in Schuylkill Township in 2021. So we’re asking people to just be mindful that he is dangerous and anything’s possible.”

Earlier, authorities had released two blurry images of a man caught on home surveillance cameras from the Parkersville area.

In the first, the person authorities said was Cavalcante was observed oat approximately 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of Lenape Road, approximately 1 1/2 miles from the prison.

Chester County Prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante spotted on camera early Saturday [update] [home camera video]

He was wearing pants, a light-colored t-shirt, and white sneakers, the same clothing he was last seen in after he fled from the prison early Thursday morning. He has long, black curly hair and was wearing a backpack, although it was unclear where he may have acquired the backpack.

Police also received a report of an attempted burglary at 11:30 p.m. in the 1000 block of Ballintree Lane in Pocopson.

According to one nearby resident, who asked to remain anonymous, “Our neighborhood had heavy police presence checking each car going in and out of the neighborhood. They left yesterday.

“Today our neighborhood chat tells us the police believe he was in the Waterglen development near the upper pond,” the Pocopson residents said. “Last night there was a heavy helicopter presence with a voice shouting in Portuguese to give up and surrender. To the surprise of no one, he did not.”

The residents said the focus now turns to the schools. “We cannot believe the school would allow kids to gather at bus stops and send school buses through these neighborhoods. We all anticipate it will be a ‘prison break day’ with at home instruction,” they said

In talking informally with people in the know the residents suggested that Cavalcante had been able to break into an empty house and is getting food and seclusion there. “Maybe someone was away for Labor Day. The alert now is to be cautions entering your house if you have been away,” they said.

But the mood of some of those who live in the area was becoming impatient, according to another resident out for a morning walk Sunday.

“It’s getting to be a bit much,” said the resident, who did not give their name, but complained about having to watch their family’s every move. “You would have thought they would have had him by now. It’s terrible that this happened.”

In an eerie coincidence, the Pocopson area is not far from the area where the last high-profile prison escapee was captured after a weeks-long manhunt across the county.

In August 1999, infamous murderer Norman Johnson of the storied Johnson Brothers Gang, was taken into custody after he was spotted in the backyard of a home in Pennsbury. He had escaped the maximum security state prison in central Pennsylvania. Johnson, however, made the distance of more than 150 miles to bring him back to his home county, while Cavalcante — the Brazilian who is in the country illegally — may have only gotten two miles from his prison cell.

Cavalcante was convicted on Aug. 16, of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing his 33-year-old former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her two children and was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Aug. 22. He is also reportedly wanted in his native Brazil for the murder a man who owed him money in 2017.

He was reported missing about 8:50 a.m. Thursday, and was last seen on Wawaset Road not far from the 1,100 inmate prison around 9:40 a.m. There is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to his capture.

Anyone with any information on his whereabouts asked to call 9-1-1 immediately.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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