Escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante caught after two weeks

A Pennsylvania fugitive has been caught two weeks after he escaped prison and sparked a massive manhunt.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, was arrested without incident in a wooded area inside a police perimeter, says a law enforcement source.

More than 500 officers were deployed on the Brazilian national’s trail after he broke out on 31 August.

He was sentenced last month to life for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her two young children in April 2021.

Police are about to share the details of his capture at a news conference.

The BBC’s US partner CBS News reported that he was captured at around 08:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

Local media footage shows a handcuffed Cavalcante, in a dirty Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt, being escorted to an armoured black police van.

A large team of officers in camouflage uniforms is seen posing for photos with their captive before cutting him out of the hoodie and loading him into the van.

His capture “ends the nightmare of the past two weeks”, Chester County’s three commissioners said in a joint statement thanking those involved in the search.

They said prison officials had made “some immediate changes to bolster security in the prison”, including hiring new security contractors.

Just a week after being sentenced to life without parole, Cavalcante “crab-walked” between two walls and scaled a razor-wire fence to escape Chester County Prison, about 30 miles (50km) west of Philadelphia, where he had been awaiting transfer to a different facility.

His method of escape was the same used by another inmate, Igor Bolte, in May. The glaring security lapse at the prison and the lone fugitive’s evasion of hundreds of police officers for a fortnight have embarrassed authorities.

Residents of Chester County had been on edge amid multiple recent sightings, with one local TV station even reporting an uptick in sales at gun shops.

Police on Tuesday warned that the escaped murderer had entered a home in the area and fled with a .22 calibre rifle as the homeowner fired several shots in his direction.

Danelo Cavalcante caught

Danelo Cavalcante caught

But Pennsylvania’s governor later said “the gig is almost up” and urged Cavalcante to turn himself in.

Family members of the killer’s slain victim, Deborah Brandao, have been under 24-hour police protection.

In an interview with the New York Times, Cavalcante’s mother said he was simply fighting to survive and “did not pose a threat to anyone”.

“I know what my son did was wrong,” Iracema Cavalcante said. “I know my son should pay for his mistake.”

“But I want my son to pay for his mistake with dignity. Not to pay with his life.”

In addition to murdering Brandao, Cavalcante is accused of murdering a young friend over an unpaid debt in the central Brazilian state of Tocantins in 2017.

His mother tried to excuse her son’s murder of his ex-girlfriend, after she threatened to turn him in over that earlier killing.

“Did it happen? It happened,” she told the New York Times. “But it happened because of the stranglehold she put on him, the stance she took with him.”

Early in the 14-day search, authorities began broadcasting a message in Portuguese from Cavalcante’s mother, urging him to surrender, via loudspeaker.

Overnight into Wednesday, a search team comprising mounted patrols, dogs and helicopters fanned over the woods of South Coventry Township through rain and thunder.The end of the pursuit unfolded just beyond the densely populated suburbs of Philadelphia, in an area of rambling farmland and creeks.

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