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Chester County Press

BREAKING NEWS FROM THE CHESTER COUNTY PRESS: Search area for Cavalcante expands beyond two-mile radius

09/06/2023 10:13AM ● By Richard Gaw

Courtesy photo                       Authorities were notified by security police at Longwood Gardens that trail-cam photographs were taken of Cavalcante that captured him walking north at 8:21 p.m. and south at 9:33 p.m. at the same location at Longwood Gardens on Sept. 4.

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

While the search for killer Danelo Cavalcante continues to hold much of southern Chester County in the captive grip of fear and concern, the search for the Chester County Prison escapee – now approaching its second week -- has intensified, as hundreds of local, state and federal agencies using drones, helicopters and K-9 units narrowed Cavalcante’s whereabouts to a two-mile radius near Longwood Gardens – a search area that has now expanded.

At a 30-minute press conference held on Sept. 4, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police – now the lead investigator in the search for Cavalcante -- said that four confirmed sightings have led to the narrowing of the search for Cavalcante to an area bordered by the intersection of routes 52 and 926, Route 52 north to Parkerville Road and southeast along Route 926 in Pocopson Township.

“We have secured that area, and continue to actively search it,” Bivens said. “While there are a number of challenges, we are confident that if he is in there, we will find him.”

Bivens was joined at the Sept. 4 press conference by Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan and Supervisor Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark.

Trail-cam photos capture Cavalcante at Longwood Gardens

During a press conference held at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, however, Bivens said that authorities received notification from security police at Longwood Gardens that trail-cam photographs taken at Longwood Gardens on Sept. 4 depict Cavalcante walking north at 8:21 p.m. and south at 9:33 p.m. at the same location. Bivens said that while Cavalcante has not changed his appearance, he has obtained a backpack, a duffel pack and a hooded sweatshirt.

Bivens said that after consulting with the District Attorney’s Office, it was decided that authorities would expand the search area beyond its original two-mile perimeter to include an area south of Route 1 near Longwood Gardens.

In addition, Bivens said that he and Ryan had lengthy discussions with representatives from the Unionville-Chadds Ford and Kennett Consolidated school districts. As a result, both school districts were closed on Sept. 5, while the U-CF district operated on a Flexible Instructional Day.

“We will continue to work with those districts to determine what will occur in the coming days,” Bivens said. “[At 5:27 a.m.], a reverse 9-1-1 call was sent to the residents within a 1.5-mile area of the camera [that was located at Longwood Gardens]. This was expanded to three miles at around 7 a.m.

“We had already requested and begun to mobilize resources from additional federal agencies last evening to include the FBI and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. People and equipment from those agencies have been added to the search as we speak.” 

On the recommendation of authorities, Longwood Gardens was closed on Sept. 3; however, it offered limited access to its grounds on Labor Day and plans to fully reopen on Sept. 6.

‘Stressed' and 'desperate’

At the Sept. 4 press conference, Bivens said that authorities came very close to capturing Cavalcante; a trooper caught a brief and sighting of the escapee within the perimeter area. The officer promptly attempted to chase him but was unable to catch him as Cavalcante disappeared into the thick woods.  Bivens also said that two burglaries have occurred in the vicinity over the past few days but have not been directly traced to Cavalcante.

There is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to his capture.

Bivens described Cavalcante’s current state as “stressed” and “desperate.”

“We know that [Cavalcante] is going to be looking for a means to sustain himself,” he said. “He’s going to need clothing. He’s going to need food, and because it’s getting hot out there, he’s looking for better shelter.

“One of our practices in how we conduct these types of investigations and manhunts is that we will continue to push him hard. I intend to stress him. I want to push him hard and he will make mistakes. He will show himself. He’s already shown himself a few times. We will contain him, and we will eventually catch him.

“He is desperate and does not want to be caught and has very little to lose at this time.”

Bivens said that in the likely event that Cavalcante is captured in the next few days and does not actively surrender to authorities, “deadly force is authorized.” 

“He has the option to surrender,” Bivens said. “That is what we hope he will do.”

Cavalcante was convicted on August 16, 2023, of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing his 33-year-old former girlfriend in front of her children in 2021 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. On Aug. 31 at 8:50 a.m., the 34-year-old Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison and was later seen walking on Wawaset Road in Pocopson Township. 

Chester County District Attorney’s Office reported three days ago that Cavalcante was observed on a residential surveillance camera this morning approximately 12:30 a.m. in the 1800 block of Lenape Road, approximately 1.5 miles from Chester County Prison.

Bivens said that the State Police is continuing to ask for the public’s help in the on-going investigation. He encouraged the public to become familiar with the description of Cavalcante: The escapee has light skin, is about five feet in height and weighs approximately 120 pounds, with shaggy black hair and brown eyes. As seen on a surveillance video that was released to the public on Saturday – confirmed to be Cavalcante walking beside a residential driveway – he is wearing long pants, a light-colored t-shirt, and white sneakers -- the same items he was wearing when he escaped from the prison early last Thursday.

“Within the secured area I have described as well as near there, we are asking residents to check on their neighbors,” Bivens said. “If they are not at home, please let us know so that we can check their property in their absence. We know that we have numerous homes within the search area in which we presume that the occupants are away for the holiday weekend. We have been checking the exteriors of many of those homes, but as they return, if they find anything disturbed, please stop and call us, so that we can check it out prior to their going through their residence.”

New tip line: (717) 562-2987

Bivens also encouraged residents who live in the search vicinity to check their home security cameras and call a newly created tip line at (717) 562-2987 if they have any additional information that could lead to Cavalcante’s capture – or sign up at to obtain access to alerts.

Bivens said that the State Police have made a recording of Cavalcante’s mother – speaking in Portuguese -- asking her son to surrender peacefully, that is being broadcast on loudspeakers in the vicinity of that two-mile radius.

“I would like to thank the community for their support,” Bivens said. “I know that this has gone on for a couple of days now. I know it’s stressful for the community, but I want to assure you that all of us up here and our respective offices are working diligently to bring this to a conclusion as quickly as possible.”

Ryan said that the District Attorney’s Office continues to be in contact with nearby residents about the latest updates, as well as with the superintendents of nearby school districts.

While she avoided providing any details on how Cavalcante managed to escape Chester County Prison, Ryan said that the goal of the District Attorney’s Office is to “find this man and capture him.”

“We are channeling all of our effort to bring him into custody,” she said.  “All manpower has been executed to find and hunt down this fugitive. We will be able to update our investigation with respect to what happened at the prison at a later date.”

Clark assured that the investigation into the search for Cavalcante is being engineered by the best assets out there.”

“Our position is that Danelo Cavalcante’s desperation will not outlast the resolve of our investigators, and that goes for the state police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and our state and county investigators. We are all on the same team.”

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