It turns out it was déjà vu for the officials at the Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania. Two separate inmates made escape attempts within four months of each other by using the same method: climbing up the walls in a narrow hallway of the outside exercise yard.
Authorities caught the first of them, Igor Bolte, within five minutes when he tried to flee on May 19, authorities said in an update on Wednesday. But the second one, convicted murderer Danelo Souza Cavalcante, 34, remains on the run after absconding on Thursday.
Officials said they improved security measures since May 19, such as adding razor wire. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two escapes, however, is that an officer at an observational tower spotted Bolte. No one, however, saw Cavalcante escape, and he had about an hour head start by the time the prison locked down.
Newly released footage showed him walking into an exterior hallway that was just narrow enough to position his hands and feet on opposite walls for stability before climbing up.
According to authorities, the escapee pushed his way through razor wire after climbing up the wall, then he ran across a roof, scaled another fence, and pushed through more razor wire.
The manhunt and the investigation into his escape remain ongoing. The tower officer working during Cavalcante’s escape is on administrative leave.
Authorities said they were working to implement more security improvements to the prison, including enclosing the outside exercise yards, adding more cameras, and adjusting officers’ positions in the exercise yards when prisoners are there.
Cavalcante was supposed to spend the rest of his days behind bars. He was sentenced last month to life in prison without the possibility of parole for stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her young daughter and son. Prosecutors said he did it to silence her about a 2017 homicide he allegedly committed in his birth nation of Brazil.
Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan described the fugitive as a “small man,” standing 5 feet tall and weighing 120 pounds. Cavalcante has light skin, with “shaggy black hair” and brown eyes, authorities have said. Ryan described his hair as long and curly. Authorities say Cavalcante is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
Authorities believe he is still within a several-mile radius of the prison but have yet to say where they believe he might be going, except for going south in the immediate area.
His last confirmed sighting was on Tuesday evening in Pennsbury Township, about seven miles southeast of the prison, authorities said. A resident saw him in a creek bed, already traveling into the woods behind the property.
An earlier sighting occurred Monday evening. He appeared on trial camera footage. Authorities said he has a backpack, a duffle sling pack, and a hooded sweatshirt.
From the Chest County District Attorney’s Office:
One additional sighting was reported on the evening of September 4, 2023, within that perimeter and a multiple-hours long search was conducted by law enforcement.
On the morning of September 5, 2023, security at Longwood Gardens notified law enforcement that they had received trail camera footage that was taken on their property which showed an individual appearing to be Cavalcante. This area was just south of the original perimeter. Investigators confirmed it was Danelo Cavalcante, and he has a backpack, a duffle sling pack, and a hooded sweatshirt.
Cavalcante was seen in the trail camera footage walking north at 8:21 p.m. and back south though the same location at 9:33 p.m. Based on that information the manhunt has shifted from the original parameter to contain him, moving towards the southern end of the established perimeter.
Authorities previously voiced concern that he might break into homes. They reiterated that on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. George Bivens called the public to check their security cameras and to call authorities if Cavalcante pops up.
He noted that it was clear from the footage that Cavalcante had already obtained clothing and other supplies. They want to minimize such opportunities, and with that in mind, he asked people to secure homes, outbuildings, and vehicles.
“It’s important that we keep pressure on him as we continue the hunt,” Bivens said.
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