An escaped murderer who captured international headlines for “crab-walking” out of a Pennsylvania jail has been captured, police say.
Pennsylvania State Police announced the capture of 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante in a post Wednesday morning on X.
Lt. Col. George Bivens told reporters that authorities picked up a heat signal in their search area around 1 a.m. local, shortly after responding to a burglary call within their search perimeter.
“Tactical teams began to converge on that location where the heat source was moving. Unfortunately, we had a weather system that also came in and we had lightning that was flashing all around and it caused the aircraft to have to depart the area,” Bivens said.
“Tactical teams made a decision to secure that area … as best they could, and hold it through the storm.”
Shortly after 8 a.m., tactical teams closed in on the area where the heat source was and found Cavalcante.
“They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred,” Bivens said.
“That did not stop him from trying to escape.”
Bivens added Cavalcante reportedly tried to escape through the underbrush with a rifle in hand. Police dogs were released and he was “forcibly taken into custody.”
Cavalcante did suffer a minor bite wound, Bivens said, and will be transferred to a state correctional institute to serve out his life sentence.
The saga began on Aug. 31 when Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison while awaiting transfer to state prison. He was given a life sentence for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in 2021.
Prosecutors have said he wanted to stop her from telling police that he’s wanted for homicide in his home country of Brazil.
Cavalcante’s escape made international headlines for scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. His prison break wasn’t noticed by guards until a headcount was conducted a full hour later, authorities said.
The prison tower guard on duty who failed to notice Cavalcante’s prison break has since been fired.
Cavalcante was on the lam for almost two weeks.
Pennsylvania State Police had said that about 400 law enforcement officers were participating in a perimeter search around the Chester County Prison for Cavalcante.
On Sunday, Bivens told reporters that Cavalcante stole a 2020 Ford Transit van that had been parked at a dairy farm about 1.2 kilometres north of the search area.
The unlocked delivery van, which had the keys inside, was stolen Saturday between 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Baily’s Dairy said on its Facebook page.
Using the stolen dairy van, Cavalcante travelled north to East Pikeland Township and later to nearby Phoenixville, where he attempted to contact acquaintances for help.
Shortly before 10 p.m. on Saturday, he showed up at the East Pikeland home of a person he had worked with several years ago and asked to meet with him, police said.
The man wasn’t home but he did speak to Cavalcante though a doorbell camera, the BBC reported.
Images from the doorbell camera showed Cavalcante, who had a beard and moustache when he escaped prison, now clean-shaven. In the footage, Cavalcante is wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, green prison pants and white shoes, police said.
Cavalcante attempted to contact another old acquaintance in Phoenixville, but that person also wasn’t home, Bivens said.
The stolen dairy van was eventually found Sunday night in a field behind a barn in East Nantmeal Township, about 24 kilometres west of Phoenixville. Law enforcement then broadened their search to the area around where the stolen van was found, CNN reported.
Bivens said he believed Cavalcante abandoned the vehicle at least in part because it was low on fuel.
Cavalcante’s escape and the subsequent search for him has become big news in Brazil, where prosecutors in Tocantins state say he’s accused of the 2017 slaying of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in Figueirópolis, which they allege was over a debt the victim owed him in connection with a vehicle repair.
Bivens reports that Cavalcante’s sister has been arrested by authorities for “immigration issues,” but declined to provide further details.
Authorities described Cavalcante as extremely dangerous.
– with files from Global News’ Kathryn Mannie