The hunt for a fugitive in suburban Philadelphia intensified Friday afternoon as attention focused on the area surrounding a sprawling botanical garden where the fugitive had been spotted twice in recent days.
The number of officers searching for Chester County jail escapee Danelo Cavalconte swelled to nearly 400 on Aug. 31, with several helicopters circling and authorities suddenly closing roads in an area near Longwood Gardens. Accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death, Mr. Cavalconte was photographed by a trail camera in the garden on Wednesday night and was later seen there around noon on Thursday.
Mr. inside the search area on Friday. A spokesman for the state police said two confirmed cases of Cavalcante. But the hunt continued on Saturday morning.
On Friday, local authorities, Mr. When Cavalcante climbed onto the roof to escape, local officials said an on-duty corrections officer was removed from the prison.
The unnamed officer, who has 18 years of prison experience, was stationed in a watch tower, but Mr. He failed to see Cavalconte escape from the gymnasium. He was placed on administrative leave earlier this week and fired Thursday, said Michelle Bjork, spokeswoman for the Chester County Commissioners’ Office.
At a press conference Friday morning at a makeshift command post set up at a firehouse in downtown Unionville, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said the search for Mr. Cavalcante and those officers will catch him when he inevitably makes a mistake. But Col. Bivens, who fled Brazil in 2017 after allegedly committing a separate murder, has since fled Mr. Cavalconte warned that he was “no stranger to hardship” and had previously been the subject of a manhunt.
“After the crime he committed there, he did something similar in the woods,” said Colonel Bivens. “So I’m not surprised that he was able to hang around there for a while.”
In 2017, Walter Jr. Moreira dos Reyes was interviewed by Mr. Brazilian authorities said Cavalcante shot him dead. Mr. Daane Moreira dos Reis, the slain man’s sister, said Cavalcante worked in cattle ranching, managing cattle and machinery. She said he had a fearsome reputation around town.
“My brother mentioned that we have access to guns at home,” Ms. Moreira said in a phone interview.
Ms. Moreira said Mr. Cavalcante and his brother were close friends, but in the summer of 2017, Mr. Cavalcante began sending her threatening texts. She urged her brother to stay out of town, but in November of that year, he returned to get a new driver’s license. Early one morning, she was hanging out with friends in the town square when Mr. Cavalcante arrived, Ms. Moreira said. “I left,” she said. “When I got home, I heard gunshots.”
Mr. Cavalcande Mr. Police said he shot Moreira six times, then fled. Police said the motive behind the crime was an unresolved debt related to vehicle repairs. Officers searched the area but Mr. Cavalcante could not be found.
Mr. Ms Moreira said Cavalcante’s family was in fear after he was released from prison. Since his capture in 2021 after killing his mother, in particular, his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brando, prosecutors in Chester County, Mr. Cavalconte worries he might return to Brazil.
Ms Brando’s older sister Silvia, who lives in Brazil, said Deborah had moved to the US in 2017 and brought her two young children with her a few years later. “Her dream was to give them an education, a better life,” he said.
Deborah meets Mr. through mutual friends at a neighborhood barbecue. Cavalcante’s sister said in a phone interview Friday that she met him. “He seemed eager to please,” she said.
They dated for over a year, but Mr. Cavalcante’s personality seemed to change and he started acting more aggressive, she said. Ms. Brandao decided to end the relationship, her sister said, but Mr. Cavalcante refused. According to his trial testimony, Mr. Cavalconte physically abused her and threatened to kill her. When Mrs. Brando learned that he was wanted for murder in Brazil, she said she would tell the police if he came near her.
One day in April 2021 he came to her house. As her children watched, he pulled out two knives, threw her to the ground and stabbed her 38 times. As Ms. Brando’s daughter ran away, she later testified at trial, he threw a rock at her.
Now, Mr. With Cavalconte roaming free, Silvia Brando said her family is worried about their safety. “We’re afraid for our own, we’re afraid for our families,” he said, noting that he’s especially worried about his other sister, Sarah, who lives in Pennsylvania and is taking care of Deborah’s children.
“I hope everything works out,” he said, “and we’re relieved it’s all over soon.”
Paulo Motorine reports from Brasilia.