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An inmate in Pennsylvania was able to escape by crab-walking up a prison wall

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The manhunt continues for a convicted murderer who escaped Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania prison last week. Thirty-four-year-old Danelo Cavalcante has been on the run for eight days. Police are now expanding the search radius after multiple sightings of the man. Joining us now with the latest is ABC reporter Maggie Kent in Philadelphia. Hi, Maggie.

MAGGIE KENT: Hey, Leila. How are you this morning?

FADEL: I'm doing well. I mean, it's been eight days. What are police saying about the search effort and why they so far haven't been able to find him?

KENT: So Leila, we know that there's been six credible sightings throughout this eight-day time period. And we know that Danelo Cavalcante is on the move. They've expanded their search area, as you mentioned. We also know, based off some of these sightings - one on a trail camera - he's picked up supplies, like a backpack, a duffel bag, a sweatshirt. So he's collecting things in order to aid in his survival. We heard from state police in Pennsylvania yesterday, one of their search dogs actually had a heat stroke. And they're having some trouble with the technology used on the chopper because it can't pick up that body heat sensor. It's just been so hot here.

FADEL: And so the heat is a big challenge because with all these sightings, you would think, shouldn't the police be able to find him?

KENT: Exactly. It's a spread out and densely wooded area in some places, so that's also become quite a challenge for them.

FADEL: Maggie, this video that's being played everywhere of him crab walking his way up a prison wall and over the wall - I mean, watching it makes you think, how easy is it to escape Chester County Prison? I mean, this isn't the first time.

KENT: That's exactly right, Leila. This happened on May 19 with another inmate called Igor Bolte. He was able to do the same exact thing, stretching his arms and legs against the two sides of a wall and crab walking, essentially, as you mentioned, up to the roof, climbing down the roof and getting away. Now, in Igor Bolte's case in May, an officer who was in the tower, observation tower, was able to see him. And he was caught within five minutes. There's a question about what that officer in the observation tower was doing on August 31 because Cavalcante wasn't reported missing for an hour, until headcount happened and they were one person short.

FADEL: Now, if you could just remind us what Cavalcante was in prison for.

KENT: Danelo Cavalcante is, you know, said to be extremely dangerous. He was convicted and sentenced to life just two weeks earlier. And that's why he was in Chester County Prison, because he hadn't even really been processed to go to the next level yet. He is 34 years old. And in 2021, he was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao. He stabbed her 38 times in front of her children. This is a very dangerous man. He's also known to be wanted for a 2017 murder in his home country of Brazil.

FADEL: So for people who live in the area around the prison and further along, since you have described a larger search radius, what are they saying about knowing a person like this with the crimes you just described is on the loose?

KENT: You know, they're on edge. A lot of the same questions that we present to the state police or the district attorney's office or even the warden are questions that they bring up to us. First of all, how could this happen? No. 2, why is it taking so long? Where could he be hiding? And where do you think he's headed? There's been a number of school districts in the area who have canceled in-person classes for the last week because they're just not sure where he is. And obviously, they know that threat level is rather high.

FADEL: And what have the police been saying to people in the community to allay some of these fears?

KENT: You know, they've been saying that people have to just be vigilant. You know, I asked about the Labor Day weekend holiday, and they're just telling people, lock your doors. You know, check your garages. Make sure nothing's missing. And, of course, even though they're inundated with reports or sightings, they want you to keep calling them in. They say nothing is too small to help aid them in finding this man.

FADEL: ABC reporter Maggie Kent in Philadelphia. Thank you, Maggie.

KENT: Thanks, Leila.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANDBOOK'S "CAN'T TALK NOW") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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