After a 14-day manhunt, specialized tactical teams from the Pennsylvania State Police and U.S. Border Patrol converged on fugitive murderer Danelo Cavalcante just after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Cavalcante was lying prone in tall grass on top of the rifle he had stolen Monday evening, state police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a press conference. The tactical teams were able to sneak up on him, but when he realized they were there, Cavalcante tried to crawl away “through thick underbrush, taking his rifle with him as he went.”

“They had the element of surprise,” said Bivens.

A K-9 officer “subdued him,” said Bivens. “He continued to resist…He did sustain a minor bite wound.”

After being interviewed, Cavalcante, who was wearing a stolen Eagles shirt when caught, was taken to a state prison and not returned to the Chester County Prison, where he escaped on Aug. 31. He had crab-walked in a narrow corridor up two walls to a roof, jumped to another roof, then pushed through razor wire to freedom. Cavalcante’s method mirrored the escape of another prisoner in May. That prisoner was caught within minutes because a tower guard saw him. Officials fired the tower guard on duty when Cavalcante escaped.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) announced it had taken custody of Cavalcante as of 3 p.m. Wednesday and he is being housed at SCI Phoenix, a maximum-security prison in Montgomery County.

During his travels, Cavalcante stole various items of clothing he happened upon and also a van from a dairy that he drove about 20 miles from the southern part of the county to the northern section.

Bivens said a burglar alarm went off at a residence near Prizer Road in Pottstown, within the search perimeter. Police went to the house and found no one but decided to stay in that area. Then, a plane circling over the search area found a moving heat signature near 1 a.m. north of Prizer Road. But the thunderstorm that passed through the lightning grounded the plane. They secured that smaller area until additional men and equipment were brought in.

Bivens praised all the law enforcement officials—more than 500—who took part in the search. Cavalcante will now begin serving his life sentence.

“Our nightmare is finally over, and the good guys won,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the first responders for their tireless and dedicated efforts in bringing this fugitive to justice.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro opened the press conference by thanking law enforcement officials who searched for Cavalcante and ultimately captured him. He also praised Chester County residents.

The officers “leave their homes, leave their loved ones to keep us safe,” said Shapiro. “The public has had a chance to see what excellence in law enforcement means, what true, dedicated professionalism is all about.” No one in the public or law enforcement was injured, he said.

Resident Guy Ciarrocchi, a former Deputy Attorney General who has been critical of how authorities managed the Chester County Prison, said, “I join the residents of Chesco in thanking the men and women of law enforcement for their vigilance. Now, first, under no circumstances should he go back to the Chester County Jail. Second, we need a thorough review of how he escaped, prison staffing and policies, and making sure this never happens again. Third, the politicians on the prison board should not be reelected and certainly not elected to become soft-on-crime judges for life.”

Another resident, Ada Nestor, said, “In the near future, we will need to do a very deep postmortem on how this was allowed to happen, which policies permitted this situation to arise, and make decisions to ensure our community is safe in the future.

“Chester County, Pennsylvania, has been recognized over many years for being a beautiful, safe community. One with low crime, great schools, and beautiful wildlife mixed with suburban living. This incident has put Chester County on the map, but not in a good way. Our county Officials should be ashamed of the embarrassment we have become,” Nestor said.

The county commissioners, however, thanked law enforcement, residents, and school districts.

“Prison officials have made some immediate changes to bolster security in the prison, have brought in security contractors to make permanent changes to the exercise yards, and are reviewing and – where needed – changing procedures for both security measures and communication to residents who live close to the prison,” they said in a statement.

Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democrats, said, “We can be proud of our elected officials who remained calm and continued to do their jobs under the duress of public scrutiny and criticism. Now, they are free to share the actions and plans being implemented to ensure this situation does not happen again. Our elected officials have governed well through every crisis presented to them, and they will continue to make the decisions that are best for all of Chester County.”

The Chester County Prison Board, which includes the county commissioners, district attorney, and sheriff, is set to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 20. It will meet at the prison rather than the Government Services Center.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or