Cavalcante captured

It’s over. Danelo Cavalcante, the convicted murderer who escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31, is back in custody. The capture went down with no major incident, according to state police Lt. Col. George Bivens who headed up the manhunt.

Cavalcante still had the rifle he had stolen two nights earlier, but no shots were fired. One of the canine units, a Belgian Malinois, was the first to get to Cavalcante and held him until members of the manhunt could make the formal capture. Bivens did say that the dog did bite the escapee, but that it wasn’t serious.

Bivens, the deputy commissioner of operations, summarized the events of the 8 a.m. capture.

Danelo Cavalcante is back in custody after being captured at about 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13.

It began unfolding shortly after midnight, he said, when a residential burglar alarm within the perimeter went off. Police investigated but did not find anyone. However, that brought more searchers into the area, and eventually a Drug Enforcement Administration aircraft with thermal sensing equipment picked up a heat signature at approximately 1 a.m.

The aircraft tracked that signature west of state Route 100 and north of Prizer Road. Tactical teams began converging on that area but a storm came in and the aircraft was forced to leave the area. A decision was made to secure the area, and hold it until the storm abated, “and until we could bring additional resources and bring aircraft back to ensure we did not have an issue with an escape,” Bivens explained.

“That resumed early this morning, and shortly after 8 a.m., tactical teams converged on the area where the heat source was. They were able to move in very quietly; they had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred. That did not stop him from trying to escape.

“He began to crawl through the thick underbrush taking the rifle with him. One of the Customs and Border Patrol teams had a dog with them and released the dog. He was surrounded. The dog subdued him and members of the teams immediately moved in. He continued to resist, but was forcibly taken into custody,” Bivens said.

He went on to say no one was injured other than Cavalcante who did sustain a minor bite, but medical personnel treated that bite at the scene.

After being placed in the van that would later transport him to the state police barracks at Avondale, Cavalcante was stripped, and photographs were taken of tattoos. Bivens said that is normal procedure.

Once at Avondale, Cavalcante was to be interviewed and officials would talk with the district attorney’s office to see what new charges would be filed because of the escape. Bivens said once that is complete, Cavalcante would be taken directly to a state prison. Which prison was yet to be determined.

Bivens added that Cavalcante’s sister, currently being detained for deportation back to Brazil, did plan to help her brother, but he did not go into specifics.

On hand for the Wednesday morning press conference was Gov. Josh Shapiro who thanked all who helped in the search and capture and praised the efforts of the Pennsylvania State Police.


“The public, over the last 13 days, has had a chance to see what excellence in law enforcement means, what true dedicated professionalism is all about. ...I believe [the Pennsylvania State Police] is the finest law enforcement agency in the United States.”

He added that he was grateful that there were no injuries to the public or law enforcement personnel, and he also thanked the public for its vigilance and the tips they shared, and for its support of law enforcement.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Christopher Paris echoed Shapiro's comments about the support received from the public during the manhunt.

“[For] the generosity you have shown us, we are in your debt. This was a major operation that affected your lives, and we are very much appreciative of that support.”

He, too, thanked all the personnel and various agencies that worked to bring the convicted murderer back into custody.

But Paris singled out Bivens for his dedication.

“This is my third manhunt with Lt. Col. George Bivens. It’s not lost on me that it was nine years ago yesterday for the Blooming Grove ambush [where two troopers were shot and one died] and in all of those operational cycles, there is no person who enjoys more of my trust and confidence. He was tasked with standing this operation up. My confidence in him is marrow-deep,” Paris said of Bivens.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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