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'Terrified' family of woman killed by Pennsylvania prison escapee is under 24-hour police watch

The reward was upped to $20,000 for information leading to the capture of Danelo Cavalcante, who bolted from the Chester County Prison one week ago.
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The “terrified” loved ones of the woman killed by an escaped Pennsylvania convict are under 24-hour police protection and remain “barricaded inside” their home, officials said Thursday.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Prison in Pocopson Township on Aug. 31, and police are still scouring heavily wooded terrain outside Philadelphia looking for him.

Cavalcante was sighted Thursday evening, Pennsylvania State Police said. No additional information, including where he was seen, was provided.

Longwood Gardens, where Cavalcante had been seen on trail camera video Monday night, said Thursday it had closed the gardens and cleared guests from the property as police search “an area of interest.”

Cavalcante was convicted on Aug. 16 of first-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of a former girlfriend. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

His victim's family lives in fear as he roams free.

"They do have protection, and they are terrified. They haven’t left their home," Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan told reporters.

"They’re barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety. We do have police details around them 24 hours a day, but I know they’re very, very worried."

Law enforcement released prison surveillance video Wednesday showing how the 5-foot-2 Cavalcante stretched himself between a pair of parallel walls to push himself up to the roof, where he escaped.

Danelo Cavalcante in the clothes he wore during his escape.
Danelo Cavalcante in the clothes he wore during his escape.Chester County District Attorney

“This is an outrage. This should have never happened,” Ryan said. “We’re all upset, and we’re all concerned.”

Given Cavalcante’s dexterity in his escape, police are paying special interest to trees and waterways where he could be hiding.

“It’s been a very thorough search,” State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

Sarah Brandão, whose sister Deborah Brandão was fatally stabbed by Cavalcante, said she and her family worry he is headed to where they are.

"I’m [scared], me and my family, all the time," Sarah Brandão said in an interview. "I try, but I don’t sleep."

Cavalcante killed Deborah Brandão in 2021, officials said. He fled and was apprehended in Virginia, and investigators believe he was trying to get to Mexico and then his native Brazil, Ryan, the district attorney, has said.

Sarah Brandão, left, with her sister Deborah Brandão.
Sarah Brandão, left, with her sister Deborah Brandão.Courtesy Sarah Brandão

The family is in constant contact with police. “I feel safe with the police,” she said, adding she is “still afraid.”

Cavalcante understands the forest very well, Brandão said. The reports of sightings make her feel better, because they signal that police may be closer to catching him.

Searchers are concentrating on an 8- to 10-square-mile area bordered by Pennsylvania Route 926 on the north, Hillendale Road on the south, Pennsylvania Route 52 on the west and Creek Road on the east, police said.

A reward for information leading to his arrest has been raised to $20,000, officials said.