Convicted Murderer’s Daring 14-Day Escape Ends in Razor-Wire Recapture


On the morning of August 31, Danilo Cavalcante, a mere 5 feet tall, positioned himself effortlessly between the narrow space of walls in Chester County Prison’s exercise yard.

Cavalcante, a convicted murderer, deftly ascended in a crab-like movement, gradually disappearing from the surveillance camera’s eye. He employed a climbing technique previously used by another inmate to escape in May. After his ascent, he fiercely made his way across a roof, leaped over a fence, and battled through razor wire to embrace the fleeting taste of freedom.

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Over the course of 14 days, Cavalcante successfully evaded capture despite being sighted multiple times around Chester County. Intertwining acts of property theft and visiting old acquaintances living more than 20 miles outside the search perimeter further complicated his spree.

His flight finally came to an end early Wednesday as a militant horde of state and federal law enforcement officers descended on him, acting on the trigger of a burglar alarm set off just past midnight. The captured inmate, armed with a pilfered .22 caliber rifle, was found tucked away in a densely wooded area approximately 15 miles north of his prior confines. Attempting to utilize the thick underbrush as his shield, he put up a fight, but was ultimately subdued by a police dog.

Following his capture, Cavalcante, clad in dark pants and a Philadelphia Eagles hoodie, was seen on news footage being escorted to an armored vehicle, flanked by a squadron of law enforcement officers. His capture marked the end of an unnerving fortnight-long manhunt that had cast a shadow of apprehension over Philadelphia’s suburbs and ignited international interest in both the United States and Cavalcante’s native Brazil.

The tumultuous two-week pursuit reached a critical turning point on Tuesday when authorities received reports of Cavalcante being “armed and extremely dangerous” after stealing a rifle from a local homeowner who fired back as the fugitive fled. This incident significantly intensified the efforts of the law enforcement teams involved in the search, composed of hundreds of officers.

There were indications that Cavalcante may have sought refuge twice on the property of a local farm owned by one Charles Lyman. Evidence, including missing granola bars from a horse trailer and a visible presence in a tree house, suggested Cavalcante was doing what he could to keep himself nourished and elusive.

Fear had crept so deep into the community that residents were seen with firearms strapped to their bodies. Schools were closed for the day while buildings were put under lockdown. The community unified under the tension, diligently keeping their homes secure as authorities combed through the dense woods with drones, dogs, and helicopters.

In the final hours of the manhunt, it was a tripped burglar alarm that significantly tipped the scales in the law enforcement’s favor. The alarm, set off just after midnight within the perimeter established by the authorities, had Cavalcante’s trail grow cold.

Soon thereafter, a heat signal was detected by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration aircraft. Though a raging lightning storm forced the aircraft to retreat, heavily armed tactical teams maintained their positions at the signal’s location.

Once the storm subsided, a U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit K-9 cornered Cavalcante in a compact swoop. The team, having retained the element of surprise, had Cavalcante surrounded before he could place a single footstep of escape. Continually resisting, he was eventually forcibly brought into custody as his stolen rifle lay nearby.

The relief echoed through the radio room at 8:18 a.m. as they announced the end of the manhunt, leaving residents informed and solaced: “The search for Danelo Cavalcante is over.”