In 2014, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens was demoted to major and booted to the Gaming Enforcement division after becoming the public face of the 48-day manhunt for cop-killer Eric Frein.
Today, Bivens is in charge of the search for convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante who escaped from the Chester County jail.
The search for Frein took Bivens and his team nearly two months and cost taxpayers $12 million. Frein, a survivalist who shot and killed a state trooper and seriously wounded another, is now on death row. However, since Gov. Josh Shapiro has stated he will not sign any death warrants, Frein is unlikely to be executed.
According to press reports at the time, Bivens was forced out by then-Gov. Tom Wolf’s choice to lead the State Police, Tyree C. Blocker.
Today, Bivens appears to be Pennsylvania’s go-to man when a prisoner escapes.
In July, Michael Burham, 35, also a suspected killer, escaped from a jail in northwestern Pennsylvania. Burham, a survivalist and Army Reserve veteran, was free for nine days. Bivens also led the efforts to find and take Burham into custody.
As with Cavalcante, Burham escaped via the prison’s roof, although he used bedsheets to lower himself to the ground. He was being held on kidnapping and other charges and was also a suspect in a homicide.
A jury convicted Cavalcante, 34, a native of Brazil, of murder for the brutal stabbing death of his former girlfriend as her children watched. Officials said that a judge sentenced him to life in prison, and he was at the Chester County Prison awaiting transfer to a more secure state prison. Cavalcante is also wanted in Brazil for a 2017 murder.
Cavalcante escaped by crab-walking up walls in a narrow corridor to access the roof. From there, he jumped to a lower roof in a less secure area and then to the ground. That was the same way a different inmate escaped in May. That prisoner was caught within minutes because a tower guard saw him.
In Cavalcante’s case, the guard failed to notice the diminutive, 5-foot-tall man as he exited the prison grounds.
At the time of Bivens’ demotion, several members of law enforcement spoke out in his defense. “He doesn’t only lead from the top, he also leads from within,” former FBI agent Edward J. Hanko told The Inquirer. “That quality is what is intrinsic in George and in great leaders. If your people know you will take care of them, they will follow you off a cliff.”
Authorities are using search dogs, helicopters, and drones to locate Cavalcante. He has managed to supply himself with various items, such as a backpack and sweatshirt, by breaking into residents’ homes.
Officials warn he is dangerous. Residents are told to lock their doors and windows and report if they see him.
A $20,000 reward is offered for information leading to his capture.