Police Hunt for Convicted Murderer Who Escaped Pennsylvania Prison

The police were searching early Friday for a Brazilian man they warned was “extremely dangerous” after he escaped from a prison near Philadelphia, days after he was sentenced to life in prison for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend.

The inmate, Danelo Cavalcante, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Thursday morning, the local district attorney’s office said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The prison’s acting warden, Howard Holland, declined to comment at a Thursday news conference on how or why the escape had occurred, saying only that it was under investigation.

Deb Ryan, the Chester County district attorney, said at the news conference that Mr. Cavalcante had been last seen walking southbound in the county’s Pocopson Township on Thursday morning wearing a white T-shirt, gray shorts and white sneakers.

Her office said the search extended to all of Chester County and that residents within a six-mile radius of the prison had been notified of the escape. The county lies just west of Philadelphia.

“If you see him, do not approach him,” Ms. Ryan said. “We’re asking you please to contact 911. He is considered extremely dangerous.”

Ms. Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did the Pennsylvania State Police. Officials at Chester County Prison could not be reached for comment overnight.

Mr. Cavalcante, 34, is a Brazilian national who is wanted for homicide in Brazil, the United States Marshals Service said in a notice.

Last week, Mr. Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder. The district attorney’s office has said that in April 2021, he stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, to death in front of her children, ages 4 and 7. Mr. Cavalcante, who was living in Royersford, Pa., at the time, fled the murder scene and was arrested hours later in Virginia.

Before the attack, Ms. Brandao had learned of Mr. Cavalcante’s open warrant for murder in Brazil and threatened to tell the police, according to the district attorney’s office. “Detectives determined that this was the motive for the murder,” the office said in a Facebook post last week.

Mr. Cavalcante had previously assaulted and threatened to kill Ms. Brandao, the office said on Thursday. It said he is 5 feet tall and speaks Portuguese and Spanish.

Mr. Cavalcante is a former gang member who is wanted in Brazil for the 2017 murder of a man who owed him money, Ms. Ryan, the Chester County District Attorney, told the Media News Group, according to a report on Thursday in one of the company’s newspapers, Daily Local News.

The report said Mr. Cavalcante had been held at the Chester County Prison since his arrest two years ago. It said he was being held there for an additional 30 days after his sentencing — before a planned transfer to the state prison system — while he and his lawyers decided whether to appeal his conviction.

Daily Local News reported in early August that Mr. Holland, the prison’s acting warden, had taken over after the regular warden was placed on administrative leave. The prison “continues to grapple with some level of vacancies among correctional staff,” the newspaper’s report said.

The prison opened in 1959, with a mix of maximum-security and medium-security cells, and was expanded in the 1980s, according to its website. It said in a notice on Thursday that all family visits had been suspended.

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