A convicted murderer who escaped from a county prison was captured Wednesday morning with the assistance of a thermal imaging camera.
Danelo Cavalcante was hiding in the woods in northern Chester County when the thermal camera on an aircraft picked up his heat signal. Tactical teams then used search dogs to locate Cavalcante.
“They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference. “Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred.”
According to Bivens, the convict tried to escape by crawling through thick underbrush until a search dog bit him and subdued him, causing a minor wound to Cavalcante’s scalp.
Cavalcante was in possession of a stolen rifle, but no shots were fired according to police.
The search for Cavalcante spanned two weeks and involved hundreds of heavily armed law enforcement officers with dogs, horses, and helicopters canvassing a rural part of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Cavalcante, who had been convicted of murder, escaped from a Chester County prison on August 31. He had been awaiting a transfer to a state facility.
Following his capture, the Chester County commissioners released a statement thanking law enforcement officials and noting that Cavalcante’s capture “ends the nightmare of the past two weeks.”
The commissioners also addressed concerns about the county prison that Cavalcante escaped from.
“Chester County Prison officials have made some immediate changes to bolster security in the prison, have brought in security contractors to make permanent changes to the exercise yards, and are reviewing and – where needed – changing procedures for both security measures and communication to residents who live close to the prison,” they said.
According to the Associated Press, the prison tower guard on duty when Cavalcante escaped was fired from his job. The prison escape went undetected for more than an hour.
Cavalcante will remain in state police custody for a time before being transferred to a state prison to serve his life sentence.