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What we know about Pennsylvania prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante, who was convicted in the gruesome killing of his ex-girlfriend

A massive manhunt is currently underway for Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a 34-year-old convicted killer who managed to escape from Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania. Cavalcante had been convicted just last month for the brutal 2021 stabbing of his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandão, in front of her two young children.

The escape occurred on Thursday morning and prompted an extensive search effort involving hundreds of officers. On Tuesday, the manhunt expanded its scope after Cavalcante was captured in trail camera footage in Chester County, south of the initial search perimeter. As a result of the ongoing search, two school districts in the area canceled classes for safety reasons.

Authorities have issued strong warnings about Cavalcante, describing him as extremely dangerous and desperate to evade capture. He is a Brazil native, approximately 5 feet tall, with long, curly black hair and brown eyes. Residents living near the prison have been advised to lock their doors, stay indoors, check on one another, and review their security camera footage.

The Gruesome Murder:
Prosecutors provided horrifying details about the murder of Deborah Brandão, which occurred on April 18, 2021. According to their account, Cavalcante confronted Brandão, his ex-girlfriend, while she was outside her home with her two children.

In a brutal attack, Cavalcante allegedly grabbed Brandão by her hair, threw her to the ground, and proceeded to stab her 38 times in nearly every vital organ, ultimately causing her to bleed to death. Brandão’s 7- and 4-year-old children, witnesses to the horrific crime, sought help from neighbors while Cavalcante fled the scene.

Authorities arrested Cavalcante several hours later in Virginia, where it is believed he was attempting to flee to Mexico, with the ultimate goal of reaching Brazil. The Schuylkill Township police responded to the scene on the day of the murder, finding Brandão on the ground with multiple stab wounds to the chest. Despite the efforts of a neighbor who administered life-saving procedures while awaiting emergency medical services, Brandão was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after.

In August 2023, Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime related to Brandão’s killing. Only days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. During the trial, Cavalcante’s defense argued that he had been provoked and “snapped” when he attacked Brandão, claiming he acted in the heat of passion.

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