▶ Watch Video: Surveillance video shows how Pennsylvania prisoner Danelo Cavalcante escaped

Danelo Cavalcante entered the “C” Block cell of Chester County Prison in West Chester, about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia, at 8:33 a.m. on August 31, 2023. Less than twenty minutes later, the convicted murderer escaped, officials said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. 

Surveillance footage played at the news conference showed Cavalcante, wearing a white t-shirt, black pants and white sneakers, walk to a back wall and look around before grabbing onto a razor wire fence. He then pressed his feet against the wall so he was fully horizontal and climbed, Spiderman-like, up the wall until he disappeared from view.

Chester County Prison’s acting warden Howard Holland said that Cavalcante escaped from the exercise yard to the roof area, which is the same escape route that another inmate Igor Bolte used on May 19, 2023.

After Bolte’s escape, the prison hired a consulting firm, which advised them to “cap the whole area” with razor wire, Holland said. The prison didn’t take into consideration that Cavalcante would break through the razor wire, he added.

A correction officer positioned at a watch tower was surveilling “C block”, the acting warden said. There was a basketball game taking place in the yard at the time, which might have prevented the officers from catching Cavalcante climb up the wall, Holland said. According to Holland, there were 160 cameras installed throughout the prison, and it was possible that the officers monitoring the video feeds were focused on other things and didn’t see the brazen escape. 

Holland said that the Attorney General’s office is investigating actions taken by corrections staff during the escape. The corrections officer stationed at the tower at the time is currently on administrative leave, he said. 

Cavalcante was sighted last night, but search teams were unable to locate him, Lt. Col. George Bivens, with the Pennslyvania State Police, said at the news conference. Cavalcante was last seen on Monday evening, and there have been four confirmed sightings of him in a 2-mile radius in the days since his escape. The focus of the search has been on the area around Pocopson Township, which is located within Chester County. The perimeter being searched by law enforcement has expanded, said Bivens. 

Bivens believes that Cavalcante is headed south and feels “quite confident I’m wearing him down.” Cavalcante has no shelter or regular source of food, and he is navigating extremely difficult terrain, Bivens said. This is a “difficult existence for someone trying to do this,” Bivens said, but “being hunted adds a whole different level of stress.”

Bivens added that law enforcement is “not going anywhere until we catch him.”

Reporting contributed by Aliza Chasan