The fugitive who escaped Chester County Prison and has eluded authorities for a week and a half was seen on Saturday night near a town more than 20 miles from the area where hundreds of law enforcement officers had been searching for him for days, the Pennsylvania State Police said.
The state police released photos early Sunday of Danelo Cavalcante, 34, that they said were taken near Phoenixville, Pa., apparently by a door camera. He was seen clean-shaven, wearing a black baseball cap, a light-colored hooded sweatshirt and green prison pants. He had also apparently obtained a vehicle, a 2020 White Ford van with a refrigeration unit on the top. It had been reported stolen by a daily farm not far from the jail.
Phoenixville is about 25 miles north of where the search has been taking place. Mr. Cavalcante, a Brazilian national, murdered his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandão, just outside of the town in April 2021. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder just days before he escaped. According to testimony at his trial, reported in the Daily Local News of West Chester, Mr. Cavalcante, who had been living in a town a few miles away, had a sister living in Phoenixville, and called on friends there after the murder to help him flee. He was caught in Virginia; authorities believe he was trying to make his way back to Brazil.
Ms. Brandão’s sister and children still live in the Phoenixville area as well. Last Thursday, Deborah Ryan, the Chester County district attorney, said that they were “terrified” of Mr. Cavalcante and had not left their home since he escaped.
“They’re barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety,” Ms. Ryan said, adding that they were under 24-hour-a-day police protection.
The sighting in Phoenixville comes days after authorities announced that the search operation had grown to include nearly 400 federal, state and local officers, using drones, dogs, horses and helicopters. The area authorities were focusing on had shifted over the course of the last week, but on Friday, it narrowed to an eight- to 10-square-mile sector including Longwood Gardens, a sprawling botanical garden where Mr. Cavalcante had been seen several times.