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UPDATE: Escaped Convict Cavalcante Caught in Northern Chester County

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.

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BREAKING: Escaped Chester County Convict Caught

Note: This article will be updated.

Escaped convict Danelo Cavalcante is now not just dangerous but also armed.

Cavalcante, the convicted murderer who escaped from Chester County prison on August 31, went into an open garage Monday, took a rifle, and encountered the homeowner, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said during a Tuesday morning press conference. The homeowner fired some shots from a few feet away. Cavalcante took off and was apparently uninjured, Bivens said.

“He’s extremely dangerous,” said Bivens. “He’s now armed with a .22-caliber rifle with a scope and flashlight mounted on it.”

“We consider him desperate. We consider him dangerous. All this does is confirm for us he has a weapon,” said Bivens. “He’s killed two people previously. I would consider he’s desperate enough to use that weapon.”

“It was a crime of opportunity,” Bivens said. “He went in there to hide. The garage door was open. He did not recognize the owner was in there. He was probably looking for a hiding place and ran through that garage. Saw the firearm, grabbed that, encountered the homeowner, and fled with the firearm.”

Cavalcante has been evading capture — and making headlines — for nearly two weeks. He crab-walked up between two prison walls, onto a roof, and pushed through razor wire to freedom. Another inmate used the same method to escape in May but was captured quickly because a tower guard saw him. Officials fired the guard who failed to see Cavalcante’s exit.

Over the weekend, the escaped murderer stole a van from a dairy and traveled some 20 miles until it ran out of gas. He has also approached people trying to get help, officials said.

As of Tuesday morning, searchers are focused on an eight to 10-mile area of Coventry and East Nantmeal townships. The police sent reverse 911 messages to people in the area and also notified schools. The Owen J. Roberts School District closed its schools. In Pottstown, students were being kept indoors on Tuesday.

“The current perimeter includes PA (Route) 23 to the north, PA (Route) 100 to the east, Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south, and Iron Bridge and County Park Roads to the west,” said Bivens. About 500 officers from various agencies are searching for Cavalcante, dogs, and equipment.

Danelo Cavalcante is now clean-shaven.

Bivens asked nearby residents to secure their homes, vehicles, and outbuildings.

Answering questions from reporters, Bivens said he does not believe Cavalcante was injured when the homeowner shot at him, although the owner fired several shots.

“I think he’s just trying to survive and avoid being captured right now,” said Bivens.

“We’re not evacuating homes at this point,” said Bivens. “We’re asking residents to be vigilant and lock their doors.”

The area is hilly and wooded, he said. There are streams, tunnels, and ditches.

“He is in that perimeter, and we will actively hunt until we find him,” said Bivens.

The search area is three miles east to west, two miles north to south, and is about eight to 10 square miles.

“No perimeter is ever 100 percent impenetrable. We have stood up a very strong perimeter. We will do our very best to contain him in there and capture him,” said Bivens. “We will continue until we locate him.”

“We’ve been utilizing tactical teams. Just because we’ve found a footprint doesn’t necessarily mean we know what direction he traveled in. He had traveled south and then went back north,” he said.

Bivens said he has been in “regular communication” with Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office.

“The governor has been closely monitoring this situation. He has offered any necessary resources. ”

Guy Ciarrocchi, former Deputy Attorney General and a Chester County resident, said, “Day 13. For residents of Coventry, Nantmeal, the students, and families in Owen J. Roberts Schools, this isn’t just another news story; it’s real life. An armed double-murderer is on the loose and will do anything to survive. We continue to ask without answers: How did this happen, just months after it did before? Why wasn’t the public notified as soon as possible? Why did a short-staffed prison accept a murderer? Why weren’t more K-9s available? Why weren’t the state police and U.S. Marshals called in for almost a week? This is a tragedy. I pray it ends before anyone else is harmed, or worse.”

Bivens defended the search efforts.

“Our law enforcement people have done an amazing job, tracking and locating him. That proverbial needle in the haystack, and they’ve located that needle repeatedly. People have done an amazing job. I’m very proud of the work they’ve done and continue to do. There is nothing gone wrong. Our agencies are all working very well together, and I believe we will be successful in the long run.”

“We’re making every effort to find him as rapidly as we possibly can,” Bivens added.

“It is imperative that anyone with information about Cavalcante contact us immediately so we can act on it in a timely manner,” said Bivens. They can call 911 or the tipline: (717) 562-2987. There is now a $25,000 reward.

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State Cop In Charge of Cavalcante Search Previously Led Search for Cop-Killer Frein

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.

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