Search For Fugitive Northeast Killer Now 'Nationwide' Manhunt, Police Say

Danelo Cavalcante has somehow slipped by the hundreds of law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania and neighboring states searching for him in the Longwood Gardens, and though authorities believe he is still in Pennsylvania, they are now describing the search as a "nationwide" manhunt. 

Danelo Cavalcante was captured on home surveillance footage Saturday, Sept. 9.
Danelo Cavalcante was captured on home surveillance footage Saturday, Sept. 9. Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police

The 34-year-old fugitive killer was captured on home surveillance footage on the porch of a residence in northern Chester County near Phoenixville, sometime late Saturday, Sept. 9, Pennsylvania State Police said.

By Sunday morning, Sept. 10, troopers said they had received leads that Cavalcante was no longer in the Phoenixville area. 

He also appeared to be rocking a new, clean-shaven look and driving a set of wheels in the Saturday night footage: A 2020 White Ford Transit van, police said.

In a press conference Sunday afternoon, PSP Lt. Col. George Bivens said Cavalcante abandoned the van, possibly having run out of gas, somewhere in northern Chester County. 

The "physical search" for the escaped convict is now centered around the field where the vehicle was found abandoned, though a perimeter had not been established by 2 p.m., Bivens said. 

After authorities realized Cavalcante had stolen the van, law enforcement agencies across the country were alerted, PSP said. Bivens said he still believes the fugitive is in Pennsylvania but that federal law enforcement and police in other states remain part of the effort, which he characterized as "nationwide."

Troopers said that Cavalcante showed up at the home of a former coworker Saturday night in Phoenixville to ask for assistance. The former colleague was not home at the time and alerted police as soon as he saw the footage from his doorbell camera, Bivens said. 

The now-abandoned van was stolen from Baily's Dairy Farm of Pocopson Meadow between 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, the farm said on Facebook. Bivens noted that the keys were in the unlocked van when Cavalcante stole it. 

Asked how the convicted murderer was able to slip past the perimeter at Longwood Gardens, Bivens said that underground tunnels and drainage ditches made the property impossible to completely secure. 

He also cited harsh terrain and rainy weather conditions on Saturday night that grounded aircraft. 

Bivens confirmed that Cavalcante's sister had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement but declined to comment further. 

While there is no evidence the fugitive has a weapon, Bivens said he could not rule it out Sunday afternoon. The family of 33-year-old Deborah Brandao, whom Cavalcante stabbed to death in 2021, remains under constant police protection, he added. 

Bivens said that members of the public hoping to aid in the fugitive's capture have become a "hindrance" to the manhunt and asked residents to refrain from involving themselves. 

Cavalcante is now believed to be wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball-style hat, green prison pants, and white shoes. 

Anyone with information can contact 911 or the Tip Line at 717-562-2987.

Cavalcante has been at large since last Thursday, Aug. 31. He escaped little more than a week after he was sentenced to life without parole for Brandao's murder. 

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