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Pennsylvania escapee eludes police as search enters ninth day

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (NewsNation) — An escaped murderer on the run in southeast Pennsylvania has so far eluded hundreds of law officers as the search entered its second week and nervous residents stayed alert for any sign of the fugitive.

Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a 34-year-old from Brazil, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. The breakout mirrored an earlier escape there in May and wasn’t detected by guards for a full hour, authorities said.

Since the escape, there have been eight sightings that police believe could be Cavalcante, the latest around noon Thursday, said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens.

A new potential sighting was reported Thursday night near a massive botanical garden that was evacuated and closed indefinitely.

Bivens said authorities began searching the area more closely after the sighting was reported just before noon and continued to look for Cavalcante in the area.

Bivins reported the search area now encompasses an area of 8-10 square miles and said authorities have no reason to believe Cavalcante has left that area.

Thursday night, Longwood Gardens — a botanical garden spanning more than 1,000 acres — said it was closing the property and clearing out guests so police could conduct a search in an “area of interest” on the property. Tenants in the area were also asked to shelter in place.

Bivens said the fugitive has managed to get clothing and unknown supplies, and there’s now a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

Cavalcante received a life sentence last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children in 2021. He escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison. Prosecutors say he killed her to prevent her from telling police that he’s wanted in a 2017 killing back in Brazil.

Authorities believe he was trying to return to Brazil after his ex-girlfriend’s murder. He was captured in Virginia.

The latest annual reports show Chester County reported only one escape from its facility from 2015 through 2022. That doesn’t include the May escape, when an inmate similarly crab-walked up the walls of the entrance to the exercise yard, climbed to the roof, jumped down and ran for it. He was captured minutes later, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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