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Chester County Press

Convicted murderer escapes from Chester County Prison

08/31/2023 11:31PM ● By Richard Gaw
As posted on the Chester County District Attorney's Office Facebook page at 10:15 a.m. on September 1, the search for prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante continues with detectives and hundreds of police officers using every means available, including search helicopters and dogs. The Office is following up on every lead. The Chester County Press will continue to report on this story as it progresses.

 By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

Ten days after being sentenced to life in prison for the brutal stabbing of his ex-girlfriend in front of her children in 2021, 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison early on Thursday morning and is still on the run from authorities that include the Pennsylvania State Police, the Chester County detectives, the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Emergency Services.

Cavalcante’s escape occurred at around 8:50 a.m. on Aug. 31, and he was last seen walking on Wawaset Road in Pocopson Township.  

Cavalcante is a 5-foot, 120-pound Hispanic and is said to be wearing a white t-shirt, grey shorts with white sneakers. All residents within a six-mile radius of the prison were notified of the escape, including the Unionville Chadds Ford School District, whose buildings were moved to a “secure” operational status during the day.

“The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority,” Dr. George F. Fiore, executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit said in a release issued earlier in the day. “We have these standard response protocols in place for scenarios such as this. We continue to work with the PA State Police on our response as the situation unfolds and will inform you once the restricted movement status is lifted.” 

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office is offering a combined $10,000 reward for information leading to the Cavalcante’s capture -- $5,000 each from the Chester County Commissioners and U.S. Marshals.

At a press conference held at the Pocopson Township Building on Thursday, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said that Cavalcante was awaiting a transfer to a state correctional institution after being sentenced for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao, which Ryan said involved Cavalcante’s stabbing his ex-girlfriend 38 times in front of her four- and seven-year-old children by the use of a kitchen knife at Brandao’s home in Schuylkill Township in April 2021. Just hours after he committed the murder, Cavalcante drove to Phoenixville, at which time two friends of his helped him escape in his effort to flee the United States. He was later arrested while driving south along I-95 by Virginia state police.

A Chester County jury took about 15 minutes on Aug. 16 to convict Cavalcante of first-degree murder and he was sentenced on Aug. 22 to life in prison.

“His [Cavalcante’s] depravity knows no bounds,” Ryan said. “This is someone with nothing to lose. I don’t know what he is capable of doing. We are asking for everyone in the public to assist us in this manhunt.” 

In a statement issued by the Chester County Department of Emergency Services and the Pennsylvania State Police Avondale, anyone who sees Cavalcante is being asked to not approach him – as he is presumed extremely dangerous -- but to call 9-1-1 immediately.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].