Escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante brutally killed his ex-girlfriend in front of her two children two years ago – as heartbroken sister describes how he changed from ‘nice neighbor to jealous boyfriend’

Killer Danelo Cavalcante was serving a life sentence for brutally killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her two children when he escaped a 1ee-9e5b-c34f9307a2bb" rel="noopener">Pennsylvania prison, evading over 500 police officers who were hunting him down for two weeks.

Cavalcante, 34, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning in wooded area near South Coventry Township after thermal imaging from an aircraft pinpointed a possible location on Tuesday night. 

He had reportedly been hiding with the rifle he stole on Monday when he was found under a pile of logs and subdued by a K-9. 

The Brazil native, who was in the country illegally, escaped from the Chester County Prison, 30 miles west of Philadelphia, by crab-walking up a wall just days after he was sentenced to life for the murder of 33-year-old Deborah Brandão in 2021.

Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her then seven- and four-year-old children in April. She had brought the children to the US from Brazil for a better life. Prosecutors say he murdered her to stop her from telling police he was wanted in Brazil for a separate killing.

He had already been accused of murdering a friend before fleeing from authorities in his home country, but Brandão and her family did not know it when he moved near them in Chester County.

Killer Danelo Cavalcante was serving a life sentence for brutally killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her two children when he escaped a Pennsylvania prison. He is pictured after he was taken into custody on Wednesday

The Brazil native, who was in the country illegally, escaped from the Chester County Prison just days after he was sentenced to life for the murder of Deborah Brandão in 2021

The Brazil native, who was in the country illegally, escaped from the Chester County Prison just days after he was sentenced to life for the murder of Deborah Brandão in 2021

The killer had reportedly been hiding with the rifle he stole on Monday when he was found under a pile of logs and subdued by a K-9

The killer had reportedly been hiding with the rifle he stole on Monday when he was found under a pile of logs and subdued by a K-9

Brandão’s sister Sarah told CNN Cavalcante seemed like a kind young man at first, but quickly turned jealous and violent against Brandão, adding that he became a different person when he drank, and told her he would do ‘the worst’ to her if she cheated.

Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said on Wednesday she called the Brandão family as son as the killer was found.

‘They were shrieking with joy and happiness that he’s incarcerated,’ Ryan said. ‘They have lived their own personal nightmare.’

Sarah, who now takes care of her sister’s children, had expressed fear that Cavalcante would come after her family again, telling CNN: ‘I was desperate, desperate, very scared. I thought about my children, obviously.’

Meanwhile, the killer’s mom defended his actions, claiming Cavalcante had ‘no other choice’ but to kill the mother-of-two.

‘Did it happen? It happened,’ the mother told The New York Times. ‘But it happened because of the stranglehold she put on him, the stance she took with him … It wasn’t femicide. He had to, he had no other choice.’

Speaking from Brazil, Iracema Cavalcante expressed concern about what would happen to him if he was caught, and suggested he was better off dead than in prison.

‘I know what my son did was wrong. I know my son should pay for his mistake. But I want my son to pay for his mistake with dignity — not to pay with his life,’ she said.

Brandão's sister Sarah said Cavalcante seemed like a kind young man at first, but quickly turned jealous and violent against Brandão. The sisters are pictured together

Brandão’s sister Sarah said Cavalcante seemed like a kind young man at first, but quickly turned jealous and violent against Brandão. The sisters are pictured together

Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said on Wednesday she called the Brandão family as son as the killer was found

Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said on Wednesday she called the Brandão family as son as the killer was found

Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her then seven- and four-year-old children in April. She had brought them to the US from Brazil for a better life

Cavalcante stabbed Brandão 38 times in front of her then seven- and four-year-old children in April. She had brought them to the US from Brazil for a better life

‘If [the choice is] to go to a place to suffer and die in that place, it’s better to die soon… You don’t have to suffer so much just to die later.’

Cavalcante’s sister, who has an overstay status, was detained by ICE and entered into a deportation proceeding after she chose not to cooperate in the investigation, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said on Tuesday. 

After his capture, Cavalcante was taken to a nearby state police barracks in an armored vehicle surrounded by a dozen-vehicle convoy with lights flashing and sirens blaring as it traveled down the highway. Two police helicopters followed above. 

He was arraigned at the Avondale barracks on an escape charge, according to the office of Judge Matthew Seavey. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for September 27. He was to be driven to a state prison to continue serving a life sentence.

It’s still unclear how the killer entered and made money in the U.S. after he fled Brazil following the murder of his friend Walter Junior in Figuéiropolis, Tocantins, on November 5, 2017. 

Evaldo Feitosa told Brazilian news outlet G1 that he was talking to Cavalcante when the killer approached Junior at a corner table. He remembered they were having a conversation before he heard several shots being fired and someone shout, ‘man the guy killed his friend.’

TV Globo also reported that the killing was over money Junior owed Cavalcante. 

Two months after the murder, he managed to slip past authorities at Brasília–President Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport.

It took a Tocantins state court exactly eight days to grant the city’s district attorney approval of the arrest warrant, according to Brazilian news outlet G1. 

The Brazilian outlet also reported that the Tocantins court failed to promptly file the arrest warrant with the National Prison Bank and did not do so until June 2018.

About 25 officers were able to surprise him as they surrounded him, but Cavalcante still tried to escape again by crawling through tall grass with the rifle

About 25 officers were able to surprise him as they surrounded him, but Cavalcante still tried to escape again by crawling through tall grass with the rifle

It's still unclear how the killer entered and made money in the U.S. after he fled Brazil following the murder of one of his friends

It’s still unclear how the killer entered and made money in the U.S. after he fled Brazil following the murder of one of his friends

Had the arrest warrant been logged with the registry, customs authorities at the airport would have been alerted and Cavalcante would have been stopped for boarding the flight in January 2018.

Cavalcante’s capture on Wednesday ended a two week-long manhunt that struck terror into the Pennsylvania community.

About 25 officers were able to surprise him as they surrounded him on Wednesday morning, but Cavalcante tried to escape again by crawling through the tall grass with the rifle he’d stolen. 

Officials then released a police dog to capture the killer. He was bitten and treated for the injury at the scene, police said. After a bloodied Cavalcante was captured, the SWAT officers in the search team paraded him like a trophy and lined up for a photo with him around 8am EST. 

The killer’s capture, which took about five minutes, brings relief to anxious residents of southeastern Pennsylvania who endured sleepless nights as he hid in the woods, broke into suburban homes for food, changed his appearance, and fled under gunfire with a rifle pilfered from a garage.

Residents or Pocopson Township had been told to stay alert and indoors as more than 500 agents actively searched for Cavalcante, who somehow managed to escape the original search perimeter around the prison.

In a statement, Chester county commissioners told DailyMail.com: ‘The capture of Cavalcante ends the nightmare of the past two weeks, and we thank every single law enforcement official at the regional, state and federal level that was out in all weather conditions, all day and night – as well as everyone in the incident command center, our County Department of Emergency Services and County Sheriff’s Office – for their immense efforts.

‘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.’