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Escaped murderer Danilo Cavalcante charged with more crimes from his time on the run

A convicted murderer who escaped from a southeastern Pennsylvania prison earlier this year and eluded a massive two-week search before he was recaptured is now facing new theft, burglary and other charges in connection with alleged crimes committed while he was on the run.

Danilo Cavalcante, 34, convicted of the murder of an ex-girlfriend before his Aug. 31 escape from Chester County Prison, is now formally charged with having stolen a transit van and burglarizing homes in southeastern Pennsylvania, where a rifle and ammunition, clothing, a sleeping bag and other items were stolen.

"The defendant used all means necessary to escape from prison and stay hidden from authorities. These offenses aided his efforts and elevated his threat to the public," Attorney General Michelle Henry said in a statement.

Cavalcante was charged Monday with felony counts of burglary, criminal trespass, theft and possession of a firearm as well as a number of misdemeanor charges including theft and receiving stolen property. The county public defender's office, which is representing him, declined immediate comment Monday.

Authorities said a resident of a Pennsbury township home reported a burglary Sept. 1 but said nothing appeared to be missing, but after Cavalcante was recaptured he identified a knife, backpack, sleeping bag, shirt and razor found with the fugitive as having been taken from the residence.

On Sept. 9, Cavalcante was reported to be driving a white van, and a trooper later confirmed that a transit van had been taken from Pocopson Township, authorities said. The stolen van was found abandoned the next day, when a resident of a South Coventry Township, about two miles away (3 kilometers) and roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia, reported that a man resembling the fugitive had entered his garage and stolen a .22 caliber long rifle loaded with 10 rounds. The resident said he fired three or four rounds from a pistol as the man fled up a hill and into the woods.

Cavalcante, 34, had been sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of killing Deborah Brandao in front of her children in 2021. Prosecutors say he wanted to stop her from telling police he was wanted in a 2017 killing in Brazil. He was awaiting transfer to a state prison when he scaled a wall and then jumped from a roof to escape.

Cavalcante was captured Sept. 13 after a two-week search that left residents on edge and led to school closures right at the start of the academic year, as well as warnings for residents to lock their doors and blocked roads over the busy Labor Day weekend.

Law enforcement's big break came when a plane fitted with a thermal imaging camera picked up Cavalcante's heat signal, allowing teams on the ground to secure the area, surround him and move in with search dogs.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press
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