By Nouran Salahieh and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN
(CNN) — The manhunt continued Wednesday for murderer Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison last week by thwarting newly installed razor wire put in place after another inmate briefly broke out a few months ago, authorities said at a Wednesday news conference.
Cavalcante, 34, who was spotted again in the area Tuesday by a resident, got free from Chester County Prison last Thursday by “crab walking” between two walls, pushing his way through razor wire, running across a roof, scaling another fence, and getting through more razor wire, Chester County Prison Acting Warden Howard Holland told reporters.
Surveillance video from the prison shows the inmate in the exercise yard looking through a window in a door then placing his hands on one wall and his feet on another. He shimmies up the opening and out of view.
Holland said the escape was not seen by a guard in a tower overlooking the group of prisoners playing basketball nor by whomever was monitoring the 160 cameras at the correctional facility in eastern Pennsylvania, about 30 miles from Philadelphia. The tower guard is on administrative leave and their actions are being investigated, Holland said.
Lt. Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said Cavalcante was observed by a resident Tuesday as he moved into the woods near a house on the eastern side of the routinely growing search perimeter.
“We have a mix of very dense woodlands in places, and then a lot of residential property with many outbuildings, landscaping, a lot of places that would be very easy for someone to hide even when they’re not in the dense woodland and everything,” Bivens said.
The escapee has been seen other times in the past week, including once in someone’s home.
“(He) has clearly already obtained some clothing and unknown other supplies and we want to minimize any opportunity to obtain anything more,” Bivens said of Cavalcante, a Brazilian who authorities said is in the country illegally. “It is important that we keep pressure on him as we continue the hunt.”
In response to a question from CNN, Bivens said searchers have found the escapee’s footprints “and there have been other indicators to us that he’s passed through a certain area.” But they have not recovered anything left behind by Cavalcante, Bivens added.
The intensive search involves hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and one state patrol search dog suffered from the 90-degree heat and is being medically treated, he said.
May escapee didn’t get far
Another inmate escaped from the prison on May 19 by climbing onto the roof and dropping down to a less secure area, court documents obtained by CNN show. The inmate, Igore Bolte, told police he was able to scale a wall in an exercise area by putting his legs against one wall and his arms on another until he was able to pull himself onto the roof.
Bolte didn’t make it far. Prison officials caught him in a residential neighborhood less than a mile from the prison just five minutes after his escape. Authorities said the investigation will look into whether the inmates knew each other.
Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan acknowledged that escape during a news conference Monday. “The prison is very aware of whatever vulnerabilities they had, and they have made efforts to correct those vulnerabilities,” Ryan said.
“We thought we took appropriate measures to … prevent that with the razor wire,” Holland said Wednesday. “Again, the one thing we didn’t take into account was a failure on the human element side, we only focused on the physical infrastructure and not necessarily the human element.”
Holland said other measures are being considered, including only allowing violent criminals alone time in the exercise yard. He also said that a guard will be added in the yard.
The manhunt has put the community on edge and forced two school districts to close for the second day in a row. Police are advising residents to keep their doors and cars locked after several sightings of Cavalcante in the area.
Immediately after his escape, authorities began a multiday search within 2 miles of the prison in a heavily wooded area of Pocopson Township and Chester County.
The search perimeter expanded a little this week after a trail camera recorded Cavalcante on Monday at Longwood Gardens, a popular botanical garden nearly 3 miles from the prison, and just south of where police had been looking for him.
A Reverse 911 call was sent to residents within a 3-mile radius of that spot on Tuesday morning, asking them to lock their doors and vehicles and report any suspicious activity to police.
“There’s a lot of ravines, a lot of tall fields, a lot of grass, a lot of hiding spaces for a guy that is 5 foot, 120 pounds,” Robert Clark, supervisory deputy US marshal for Pennsylvania’s eastern district, said Tuesday.
Murder victim’s sister says she is in fear
Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder on August 16 in the killing of his former girlfriend, 33-year-old Deborah Brandão, in 2021. He was sentenced to life without parole. He is also wanted in a 2017 homicide case in Brazil, his native country, according to Clark.
Brandão’s sister told CNN she has been living in fear since Cavalcante’s escape, she told CNN. “I was desperate, desperate, very scared. I thought about my children, obviously,” Sarah Brandão said.
She is worried Cavalcante will come after her or show up at her home and has had trouble sleeping. “I have been waking up with fright at night,” she told CNN. She believes police will catch Cavalcante, she said.
While police haven’t seen anything to suggest Cavalcante has obtained a weapon, he is being treated as “armed and dangerous” because of his history, Clark said.
“This is a dangerous, dangerous man. He’s got nothing to lose,” Clark said.
Ryan Drummond of Pocopson Township told CNN affiliate WPVI that he believes he saw Cavalcante inside his home last week. Drummond said he got up to investigate after hearing a noise from downstairs at around 11:45 p.m. Friday.
“What I decided to do was flip the light switch on and off three or four or five times, pause, and then he flipped the light switch from downstairs three or four times, which was the moment of, like, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s down there,’” Drummond said.
Drummond said he then watched as Cavalcante took food and walked out of his home. US marshals came to the home Sunday, searching the woods alongside his property, according to Drummond.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Brian Todd, Danny Freeman, Linh Tran, Andy Rose, Alisha Ebrahimji, Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.