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Chester County Prison Escapee Cavalcante Faces New Charges

Danelo Cavalcante, whose two-week escape from Chester County Prison had county residents on high alert, faces more charges related to his time on the lam.

Attorney General Michelle Henry announced several new charges against Cavalcante, a Chester County Prison inmate who escaped from prison on August 31. The charges, filed by the Pennsylvania State Police, regard Cavalcante’s activities during the two weeks he was on the run from authorities. The Office of the Attorney General will prosecute the case.

Investigators allege that Cavalcante stole items to help him change his appearance, a getaway vehicle, and a rifle with ammunition. Members of the state and local police, county detectives, the U.S. Border Patrol, and other law enforcement officers sought Cavalcante day and night until he was captured on Sept. 12.  A Border Patrol K-9 named Yoda clamped down on the fugitive as law enforcement closed in.

Cavalcante, 34, was serving a life sentence in prison for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend and awaiting transfer to a state prison when he escaped from Chester County Prison. He had also faced murder charges in his native Brazil, officials said.

According to the new charges, he burglarized two homes in Pennsbury and South Coventry townships, stealing the firearm, clothing, and a shaving razor. He is charged with stealing a Ford transit van from a dairy in Pocopson Township.

Residents were outraged after learning that another prisoner used the same method of crab-walking up two walls to a roof to escape the prison in May.  Under the leadership of acting Warden Howard Holland, the prison is stepping up security measures and will be enclosing the exercise areas to prevent further escapes.

And, although some of the Chester County Republican candidates seized upon the escape to question their Democratic counterparts’ competence, that failed to secure election wins in November.

“The defendant used all means necessary to escape from prison and stay hidden from authorities. These offenses aided his efforts and elevated his threat to the public,” said Henry. “Thanks to the diligent efforts of law enforcement, Cavalcante is in custody and will be prosecuted for all of his crimes. My office is committed to keeping Pennsylvanians safe and holding those accountable who jeopardize the public’s well-being.”

On Monday, officials charged Cavalcante with 20 offenses, including felony counts of burglary, criminal trespassing, theft, and possession of a firearm. He is expected to be arraigned on the new charges on Friday.

“The new charges against Cavalcante speak to the lengths he went to in his unsuccessful efforts to elude law enforcement,” said Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens, Pennsylvania State Police Deputy Commissioner of Operations. “We appreciate the Office of Attorney General’s work in prosecuting the case and remain thankful to the residents of Chester County for their support during the search and to our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their assistance.”

District Attorney Deb Ryan ssaid, “The defendant caused a nightmare for the residents in this county, and he must be held accountable for his actions. Hundreds of law enforcement officers worked around the clock to ensure his capture and they were successful because of their hard work and dedication. The greatest outcome here was that no one was injured, and the police did an outstanding job keeping us safe. My office got justice for the Brandao family after Deborah’s murder and the Attorney General’s Office will get justice for the other residents he victimized.

All charges are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, officials said. Senior Deputy Attorney General Christopher Phillips is prosecuting this case.

Cavalcante is being held at State Corrections Institute Phoenix in Skippack.