A murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail and was captured two weeks later told authorities he had been planning to carjack someone and flee to Canada or Puerto Rico, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
Interviewed at a state police barracks hours after his capture Wednesday morning, Danelo Cavalcante, 34, revealed to investigators he planned to get a car in an effort to slip a tightening law enforcement perimeter, Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark told The Associated Press,
“He said the law enforcement presence in this perimeter was becoming too intense, and that he felt that he needed to get out of the area,” Clark said.
Speaking in Portuguese through an interpreter, Cavalcante revealed other details about his life on the run since his brazen escape from the Chester County jail on Aug. 31.
Cavalcante said he drank water from a creek and ate watermelon he’d stolen from a farm and cracked open with his head. He hid in foliage so thick that search teams came within a few yards of him on three separate occasions. He covered his feces with leaves in an effort to cover his tracks. He stayed put for days at a time and only moved at night.
“I don’t know that he was particularly skilled. He was desperate,” Lt. Col. George Bivens, the leader and public face of the intensive search, said at a news conference Wednesday. “You have an individual whose choice is go back to prison and spend the rest of your life in a place you don’t want to be, or continue to try and evade capture. He chose to evade capture.”
At one point, Cavalcante told investigators, he thought of giving himself up. He didn’t want to be caught, but he also didn’t want to die, Clark said.
“He said, ‘I knew that I had to pay for what I had done. However, I wasn’t willing to pay with my life,’” Clark said.
Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County jail in southeastern Pennsylvania by crab-walking up between two walls that were topped with razor wire, then jumping from the roof. His capture ended an intensive search that terrified residents, with the fugitive breaking into homes, changing his appearance and stealing a van and rifle during two weeks on the run.
Still armed with the rifle, Cavalcante tried to escape by crawling through underbrush. But a U.S,. Customs and Border Protection search dog named Yoda subdued him, biting him on the scalp and then latching onto his leg.
Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life in prison last month for killing his ex-girlfriend, was taken to a state prison in the Philadelphia suburbs after speaking with investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service and detectives with Pennsylvania State Police and Chester County.
“We knew we were doing the right thing the whole time. But to have him say it, and to have him say, ‘I was going to give up, I thought about surrendering, you guys were everywhere, I had to move before you found me,’” that was just, you know, very encouraging to hear,” Clark said.