Authorities assign more officers to find convicted killer who escaped Pennsylvania prison as search enters 10th day

As the manhunt for a convicted killer who slipped out of a Pennsylvania prison continues for the 10th day Saturday, authorities conducting an intense 24-hour operation now have nearly 400 officers on search efforts.

Officials assigned additional law enforcement personnel to search for Danelo Cavalcante as the number of his reported sightings in Chester County has grown since his escape from the county correctional facility on August 31.

“We pulled more people in through the night last night,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens told reporters Friday, adding the reinforcements are from state police and other agencies. “We have got numerous tactical teams that are out doing searches.”

Bivens, who is leading the massive search, provided a tour of the command center on Friday to a CNN crew and other reporters to show how authorities are operating.

Police showed a live map of the general perimeter where tactical teams, K-9 dogs and a helicopter are scouring for any signs of Cavalcante. There were also multiple mobile trailers outside of the command center used for additional space.

Typically, law enforcement staffers are working 12-hour shifts at the command center, sometimes even longer, Bivens said.

“I want people to know it’s not a matter of having one call taker in here that’s answering a tip line and perhaps dispatching a police car to go check that out. There is a major operation underway to try and capture him.” Bivens said.

The look behind the scenes comes amid a series of Cavalcante sightings over the past week, with the latest spotting reported by an individual Thursday just before noon at Chester County’s Longwood Gardens. Cavalcante was seen in or around the gardens, about 3 miles from the prison, at least three times this week.

Cavalcante, 34, fled Chester County Prison last week by “crab walking” between two walls, scaling a fence and traversing across razor wire.

The escape, which was caught on surveillance video, was not seen nor reported by the prison tower guard on duty at the time. Officials fired him Thursday after serving the prison for 18 years, a source with knowledge of the decision told CNN.

“We can confirm that the corrections officer on duty when Danelo Cavalcante escaped was terminated yesterday afternoon,” the source said.

And although there were some additional security measures implemented before Cavalcante’s escape, officials have said their enhancements didn’t account for human errors.

The inmate’s escape from the prison – about 30 miles west of Philadelphia – has distressed residents and instilled fear among his victim’s family.

Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder last month for the 2021 killing of his former girlfriend, 33-year-old Deborah Brandão, in Chester County. Authorities said Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her two children, who are now in the care of her sister.

Cavalcante is also wanted in a 2017 homicide case in Brazil, his native country, a US Marshals Service official has said.

Police stand guard on the perimeter of a search zone on Friday in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Police stand guard on the perimeter of a search zone on Friday in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. – Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Multiple sightings with no capture

As of Friday, there have been several credible sightings of Cavalcante, Bivens said. And as the search stretches into the 10th day, authorities are confident they will bring Cavalcante back into custody.

“My intent is to pressure him to try and contain him and capture him. He’ll make a mistake. He’ll become more desperate. He’ll have to expose himself,” Bivens said.

Here’s what we know about some of the sightings for far:

• August 31: Cavalcante is seen on jail surveillance video escaping from Chester County Prison. The video showed him “crab-walking” between two walls in an exercise yard – placing his hands on one wall and his feet on another – and shimmying up out of view, said the prison’s acting warden, Howard Holland. Cavalcante then ran across a roof, scaled another fence and got through razor wire, Holland said.

• September 1: A resident of Pocopson Township – where the prison is located – said he saw Cavalcante inside his home Friday, taking food before leaving, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.

• September 2: Cavalcante was spotted on surveillance video about 1.5 miles from the prison, authorities said.

• Monday: A security camera recorded the fugitive at Longwood Gardens, authorities said.

• Tuesday: An area resident reported seeing Cavalcante in a creek bed on the resident’s property, Bivens said.

• Wednesday: A trail camera image showed Cavalcante in or around Longwood Gardens, which is near the prison, but officials learned about this sighting Thursday evening, according to Bivens.

CNN’s Danny Freeman, Samantha Beech and Linh Tran contributed to this report.

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