Before tactical teams captured Danelo Cavalcante in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the convicted killerlaunched a two-week manhunt had planned to carjack someone and flee the country, authorities said. Robert Clark, a supervisory deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service, told that Cavalcante intended to travel to Canada, citing Cavalcante’s comments to law enforcement after he was taken back into custody.
Cavalcante also told officers in the wake of his arrest that crews almost stepped on him multiple times as he buried himself beneath leaves and brush while they searched for him. For sustenance, he stole watermelon and drank stream water, Clark told CBS News Philadelphia.
Cavalcante had a razor blade in his backpack when he was captured this week, Clark said. He apparently used the blade to shave his beard and mustache after escaping from the Chester County Prison in West Chester, about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia, on the morning of Aug. 31.
Cavalcante, a 34-year-old Brazilian national who authorities said speaks Portuguese and Spanish and some English, spoke to authorities through a Portuguese interpreter, according to CBS Philadelphia.
Originally, law enforcement focused their search for Cavalcante within a designated perimeter around Longwood Gardens, in Chester County where they believed Cavalcante was hiding. Lt. Col. George Bivens of the state police force said at news briefings during the manhunt’s earlier phase that Longwood Gardens presented a series of challenges for authorities because the area is heavily wooded and on top of a complicated network of underground tunnels, some of which ran under construction sites and could not be properly secured.
By Saturday, Cavalcante had escaped the perimeter around Longwood Gardens and was seen in doorbell surveillance footage outside the home of a former work associate, one of two past colleagues with whom he attempted to contact that night, according to police. Authorities said he was seen driving a stolen white van with a refrigeration unit attached to the roof, which came from the Longwood Gardens area.
Cavalcante told law enforcement he performed his own surveillance of the first perimeter at Longwood Gardens so that he knew where to go when he eventually escaped, adding that he left the area when search teams were moving in closer to him, Clark said in his comments to CBS Philadelphia. Cavalcante also did surveillance of the home in Chester County where on Monday nightand ran off, evading shots fired in his direction by the homeowner.
Just weeks before his escape from Chester County Prison, Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killing of his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in 2021. He is currently being held at SCI Phoenix,in Pennsylvania, to serve the sentence.