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Escaped Killer Caught After 14 Days On The Run. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 09:30   ET



JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Off a front porch, discarded his prison shoes, which, you know, gave him a little bit more of an advantage. Now, when you're grabbing boots off the porch, you don't know if that's going to be a tight fit or a loose fit.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Right, right.

MILLER: But --

SIDNER: But he has them on, all the officers have them on because they're going through this terrain that is really wooded. And you heard there from Stephen, there's horse farms, there's all sorts of things, places for him to hide, barns and like, it'll be interesting to find out.

In the next two or three minutes --


SIDNER: -- we are going to hear from authorities about how this all went down exactly, how they captured him without incident.

BERMAN: And again, you're looking at live pictures of where this press conference will be. We were told 9:30. That's obviously slipping a little bit. All this information, how he was captured, what condition he was in, what was the nature of the interaction, how did they find him. All questions that could be answered very shortly.

Our man on the ground who's been asking so many of these questions, all the right questions for the last 14 days, is Danny Freeman. Danny, bring us up to speed about what you've been hearing the last few minutes.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. I can report now that we have some new information about exactly where Cavalcante may be heading at this moment and what some of the next steps may be. This is on the record from Maria Bivens. She's a spokesperson with the State Department of Corrections.

She tells me that at this point, Cavalcante will stay with the Pennsylvania State Police for a while. He will also be medically assessed very shortly as well, that's according to the State Department of Corrections. And then after that, he will be taken to a state correctional facility.

They did not give specifics as to which one at this point. There are a number in the area and, of course, a number in the state. But that's the most immediate information that we'll have of where, you know, we've watched in this motorcade of this big armored van taking Cavalcante. That's where he's heading to continue to be in PSP custody. And then he'll be medically assessed, and then he'll be on his way to SCI, a state prison.

BERMAN: Andy McCabe, if you are still with us, talk to us about the federal role here. Marshals have been involved in all of this, but now that he's in custody, you know, do they shake hands and go home?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it's probably a little bit more complicated than that, but not much, right? Federal resources are brought in to help that effort on the ground. And one of the ways that they establish their legal authority to do that is by obtaining what John referred to earlier as a warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. That is a federal crime.

If you're fleeing some jurisdiction to avoid being prosecuted, we call it a UFAP warrant. So the feds will have obtained the UFAP warrant that enables them to come in and help tactically, do the searches, do the investigation, help out vetting potential contacts of the fugitive and maybe putting surveillance on different locations and family members in hopes that the fugitive will make contact to those folks.

And then once he's taken into custody, typically the UFAP warrant gets dismissed, so you're never actually prosecuted on it. And the prisoner is, you know, remanded to state custody and either prosecuted on the crime that he was running from or, in this case, will likely be prosecuted newly for his escape from prison. And of course, he has a very, very long sentence, probably, a life sentence to serve out for the homicide he's already been convicted from.

So the federal assistance, it's pretty much finished at this point. State authorities are perfectly capable of taking this guy the rest of the way. And I would suspect that he'll be held under very different conditions of confinement in state penitentiaries now that he's got a record of successful (INAUDIBLE).

SIDNER: Well, they've been searching for him for 14 days. And just to recap, he has been captured, convicted murderer who has been on loose for two weeks now, but has stayed apparently in the area where police have been searching for him. They now have him. He is on his way to another facility.

He -- and you are seeing the pictures there of the capture. You see there where his shirt is being cut off. Both John Miller and Andrew McCabe both saying that that is partly for security, also for identification because you'll notice that big tattoo on his back there that they are going to look for everything to make sure this is the right guy.

This is, they say, he is on his way to another facility to be processed and then eventually to a different prison to go back to prison, not from the one he escaped from, where there is a whole investigation going on right now.

BERMAN: Almost certainly under much different circumstances --


BERMAN: -- and security that he has been the last several weeks.

With us on the phone now is Charles Lyman, who has been on a farm, owns a farm in that area that's been searched twice, I understand, in the last 14 days over the course of this manhunt. Charles, are you with us?


BERMAN: So talk to us about what that's been like.


It's made us on edge for sure. We have believed he's been on our farm twice. Once we discovered that there was things missing in one of our horse trailers and rummaged around in there. And another time, by my mother's house on the farm, we have a kid's big treehouse, playhouse, and the door is shut permanently on there because the floor is rotten, so our kids don't get in there and play. And that door was wide open and it definitely appeared that he was in there.

So the police have come through here multiple times. We even had -- the FBI had placed a 70 foot antenna for communications on our farm because they were having a hard time with the hills and the landscape of Pennsylvania here. They were having a hard time with their communications, so we were glad to help with that.

But we were relieved he was caught. We all checked the farm regularly. My head guy, Sean, lives on the farm. We were checking the halo, checking everywhere. Walked around with guns strapped to us all day long.

SIDNER: Sir, I am sorry that you have gone through this with your family. It is terrifying to hear about the kid's treehouse and that door being open. You must have been even more concerned when you heard the news that he, at some point in Brazil, had been living in the trees as well. And then you have this thing where the door is open there and he's been rummaging around, you believe, in your barn.

What was missing? Did you notice exactly if he was able to take anything? And if you can share with us what it was?

LYMAN: Yes. Well, in the horse trailer, it's not ours, it's one of our borders, one of our clients. She keeps her horse here and she parks the horse trailer here. She's very persistent about keeping it very organized in the tack room of the horse trailer. And she keeps five granola bars in there as reward for her horse when she takes them out on trail rides and so forth, and they were missing.

And I had said to her, I said, well, maybe you forgot to replace them. She goes, no, I always keep my granola bars in there for my horse. So, he scored a snack off of that.

BERMAN: Yes, that actually very interesting. One of the questions has been, how has he been able to survive on the run? Five granola bars can last for a long time.

SIDNER: Stealing from a horse as well as, you know what I mean?

BERMAN: That's 1,500 calories right there.

LYMAN: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: That's a dairy (ph).

LYMAN: They're not just a little tiny granola bar. She had the good ones in there. And so he was living on granola bars for a while.

BERMAN: Charlie, what was your feeling when you got the word this morning, given that you, you know, not only are you in the area, you think he's been on your farm multiple times? What was it like to get the news that he'd been captured?

LYMAN: Well, yes, we're very relieved. You know, my mom's very active on the farm, but she is 83 years old and lives in her house by herself. You know, our farm is -- you know, I live in my house. Our farm is large enough that, you know, it was just nerve-wracking for her to be in there all night long and knowing that he has come through here a couple of times.

You know, like I said, it was nerve-wracking. We're glad he's caught. It would have been nice if we caught him. I would love to make the money, reward money.

SIDNER: We're going to have you stay there. Just hold on for us just one second because we have some new information that's come into our John Miller, who is here, our superb legal law enforcement analyst. What are you hearing from your sources? I know you just got off the phone.

MILLER: Something that's akin to a little more detail and a richer picture of how this went down. What I'm told from a source is that as they were pushing into that wooded area today, it was two teams working together. One from Pennsylvania State Police SWAT, and the other from BORTAC, which is the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol tactical element that was sent up along with many other federal agencies to assist.

That they came upon him laying down in the tall grass, sleeping on top of the rifle, that they gave him orders and that he complied. Now, I'm sure we'll hear a more detailed description of that, but that was the preliminary flash information I was getting from people who were briefed out of it when they came out.

SIDNER: I'm just going to go through that again. They pushed into wooded areas. There were two teams, BORTAC and the Pennsylvania SWAT teams. BORTAC is Customs and Border Control. And he was sleeping, as you said he might be, because he's been sleeping during the day and rummaging around at night and trying to get out of there at night.

But laying down on top of his rifle that he had stolen just, what, two days ago, or a day ago?

BERMAN: Two nights ago.

SIDNER: Two nights ago. So that is significant information. We are still waiting to hear directly from those who took part in this capture. But that is really, really fascinating to know that's how this went down. And it would explain why you're seeing such a calm picture here with nobody injured, because if he was indeed sleeping, this was a surprise to him.

MILLER: And, I mean, that's interesting. Was he sleeping or was he just laying down on top of that rifle, trying to be quiet, hoping that they would go by? Were the dogs a factor in this or not?


Again, this is highly preliminary --

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: -- but we expect to hear the richer version of that in this press conference, which should be starting soon.

BERMAN: They came upon him, right? Does this speak to the numbers of people they had on the ground, or does it speak to this is what you hope for in a search as you're putting people through these grids?

MILLER: I mean, this is their third perimeter, an expanded one, but it's also their largest number of people on the ground. And, you know, you really have to ask how much of this was attributed to holding that perimeter. Excellent planning, having the right people, and how much is attributed to luck? And the answer is, either way. You know, the harder you work, the luckier you get.

SIDNER: You make your own luck, right? I mean, that's part of this is that with the number of people, 500 law -- members of law enforcement out here doing this from the sky, they were mounted, they used their K-9s, all of that may have come into play.

And, obviously, this happened in the way that law enforcement would want it to happen. He has been caught. No one has been injured, according to authorities and to Danny Freeman. So -- and the community can rest for a minute.

MILLER: And they used every resource --


MILLER: -- at their disposal. And he was an individual who had no resources. His only resource was his desperation and his will to keep on going.

BERMAN: Well, we just learned some of the resources -- SIDNER: Right.

BERMAN: -- that he was collecting along the way there to hear the five granola bar for horses --


BERMAN: -- that were stolen there, that's interesting.

MILLER: The work boots that got him through the woods, which he's only had for a day, which he traded in his prison shoes, which are much less tough. The Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt, which --

SIDNER: Helps him blend in. He is in Philadelphia, and they are all huge fans.

MILLER: So, I mean, you know, the shaving of the beard and the mustache, he has done a lot to try and survive and get away against a measurable force.

SIDNER: Yes, worked for two weeks.

BERMAN: Andy McCabe, if you are still with us, the information that John Miller just reported there about the moment that he was taken into custody with the PA SWAT team and then the federal officers lying on the ground over his gun, what's your takeaway from that?

MCCABE: Well, it's really -- you know, it's an intense scene as you imagine it. And I think what jumps out to me initially, John, is the incredible control that officers exhibited in that situation, right? You've been searching for this guy for two weeks. The pressure on that search goes up every hour, every minute, certainly, every day that it goes on.

Yes, you know, the developments 24 hours or so ago, understanding that he'd armed himself with a rifle that could shoot you from longer distances with a scope. I mean, just an incredible amount of intensity. So when you, you know, when you're walking through that bush and you're listening, you have a headset on that's connected to your police radio.

So you're constantly listening to your team leader giving you instructions, pointing you in different directions. You're listening to other team members telling you what they're seeing in their field of fire, their direction that they've been assigned to look. Someone comes over that radio with, I think, you know, there may be something in the tall grass, you know, ahead of us to the right, whatever that might be. Your heart at that moment is pounding out of your chest.

And to maintain the control and the discipline over your decision, whether or not to fire can sometimes be a very hard thing to do. But, obviously, they handled it judiciously, they handled it safely and with care. None of them were injured, which is your first concern. But the subject wasn't fired upon either.

And you can imagine that he is then, you know, likely raising his hands first, following commands. That's the first thing you want to look for, as you're shouting out to him to raise your hands. If he does that, that's an indication that he's cooperating.

But as soon as he gets up and you see that there is a rifle right in the same spot where he was lying, that's one of those moments, that split second moment where you have to decide, am I in danger here? Do I need to protect myself or others? And clearly, they made those decisions correctly.

So I think it's really to their credit, at the end of a very long and hard experience, they were still making good decisions to protect themselves and the prisoner, but not to overreact.

BERMAN: And John Miller, your information is that he did follow commands. He was following commands at that moment.

MILLER: When they spotted him, they gave him verbal commands. He complied with the commands. And, I mean, if you think about that, why do you break out of jail? Why do you escape? It's because you want to live.


You want to get back to life. You're willing to go through what you're willing to go through, to get out and stay on the run. It's a desperate move, but that's the same instinct that's going to say to you, I am surrounded by a bunch of heavily armed people who have an authorization to use deadly force, and I do want to live, even if it's back in jail.

SIDNER: Right. He made that obviously calculated decision. I just want to mention again what we're looking at on the screen. On the top left, you are seeing what is going to be a press conference. We were expecting it at 9:30. It is obviously 15 minutes late, but we are waiting for police to come forward and tell us exactly how this went down.

Just below that, you were looking at the actual car that has Cavalcante in it. Well, now it's turned some sort of blueish green --

BERMAN: But had stopped, so maybe it's getting closer to where it's going.

SIDNER: We know he is not going to be taken back to the facility that he escaped from. He will be processed and then put into a different prison as we know it, a state prison. And then on the right, you are seeing video from this morning around, I don't know, 8:00 something, somewhere between 8:00 and 09:00 a.m. because he was captured, we understand, at 08:00 a.m., of Cavalcante and all of the officers who were directly involved in bringing him to justice there.

And you are seeing these videos over and over again because it is pretty stark. Just behind him there, that is the rifle we believe that he stole two nights ago from a home with someone in it, from a garage. But he was captured unarmed, unharmed -- BERMAN: Just after 08:00 a.m.

SIDNER: Just after 8:00. And the police said with no incident. We are hearing from John Miller all of how that may have happened. And I'm not sure what this picture is.

BERMAN: Yes. We have a new picture.

SIDNER: What is this?

BERMAN: Let's bring it up.

SIDNER: OK. So he was found near this pile of logs and debris. According to a CNN affiliate, our sister station on the ground there, that this is sort of the area where he may have been found. And John Miller had reported from his sources that he was found in tall grass.

If you look just behind that, there's a lot of tall grass and wooded area back there, found lying on top of his rifle.

BERMAN: Yes. Now, I don't know, as we're being shown this picture, if this is just a location point, it happens to be a pile of logs and debris with tarps there, or whether there's a suggestion that he, at one point, was hiding under the tarps --

SIDNER: In the tarps.

BERMAN: -- or the logs, which would make something reasonable --

SIDNER: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: -- if you're trying to conceal yourself here. John, anything that jumps out to you in this picture?

MILLER: Just what jumps out to you, which is it's something that offers concealment and the tarps add to that, so it's a possibility. And we should know soon.

SIDNER: We should know in five minutes. It turns out we are getting a five-minute warning. You are now seeing some of the officers show up there in the background there and you will be seeing, I'm sure, the Lieutenant Colonel will be there that we've been hearing from all along to talk about this. But there were two groups of law enforcement that were directly involved in this, correct, John Miller?

MILLER: Right. We are told -- and again, this is very preliminary that it was -- this was an amalgam of SWAT teams from all kinds of agencies that were sent out together and in pairs. And, you know, this, I'm told, was Border Patrol's Elite Tactical Unit, BORTAC, and Pennsylvania State Police SWAT team operating together in an area when they were alerted to this.

Don't know if they were alerted to it by K-9 who had the scent from that green sweatshirt that he got rid of or whether it was a visual from an officer. But they came upon him, they gave him verbal commands, he complied and they found the rifle underneath him. Curious as to whether he was sleeping when they found them --

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: -- or literally, in the most literal sense, just lying low, hoping they would pass by.

BERMAN: Still unknown. So we do not know if he was sleeping or lying there. And we don't know how much he knew either. And we are unlikely to learn that.

MILLER: I mean, that's an interesting question because we live in a world where everybody knows everything, because we all walk around with one of these phones.

SIDNER: Right.

BERMAN: We don't have any indication that he ever obtained a phone. And the burglaries, you know, what did we learn today? Granola bars, sweatshirt, boots. But we don't know that he ever was able to obtain something that would have given him a view of the world.

SIDNER: It's interesting because we do know that his sister, I think, had some sort of communication because police have been talking to her and concerned about anyone that would try to help him. But ultimately, it looks like he may have tried to seek help from people he knew and it just didn't work out. He ended up back in those woods and now he's been captured.

MILLER: He went to old friends, friends he hadn't seen in years, and basically reintroduced himself via a ring doorbell --

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: -- seeking assistance. But they had been interviewed by police ahead of time and told, if he contacts you, you have to contact us.


His sister's dilemma, which is she's in overstay, so she's not in the country legally and she was taken into custody and is in the early phases of some kind of deportation proceeding was based on -- they interviewed her, they asked her questions, they described her as uncooperative. And I don't know if that means that she refused to answer questions or that they asked her specific things that they suspected she was doing to help him and she denied them.

But as we've heard Rob Clark, the U.S. Marshal's supervisor in this case say, the statement she made, he said, came close to the border of being criminal in terms of either being untruthful or withholding.

BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures right now from Chester County, Pennsylvania. This is where they will hold a news conference very shortly. You're seeing photos now being set up beside the lectern where we will learn details for the first time, more details of how Danelo Cavalcante was taken into custody shortly after 8:00 a.m. We know that two teams of law enforcement, one federal, one state, came upon him, lying down in the grass on top of his weapon. But, obviously, much more that we will still learn in the next few minutes.

Danny Freeman who's been on the ground in Chester County for days and days and days now. You are still with us. We're a minute or so away from this press conference. What are the major questions you have?

FREEMAN: Well, I think the major question that I have is certainly what led them to this pile of logs to this particular area? Because, you know, again, there's been a show of force in terms of law enforcement out here for many, many days. It seems this area was actually on the very edge of this search perimeter and, frankly, not close to where he even stole that gun on Monday night. So I'm curious what led them to this particular spot.

And one other thing, John, I know again, we're waiting for this presser any moment now. But I'll just note I've been talking with you on camera for, you know, a little while now and I didn't even realize, if you look behind me, the police presence is gone. All those troopers, all of the intense perimeter setups, checking the trunks, checking the cars, they're gone.

We saw them. Many troopers come from the site where this capture happened. They went home. It's just another signal that things are getting back to normal here already in Chester County after 14 days of fear, of uncertainty and concern because this convicted murderer was on the loose. And now he's back in police custody.

And as I reported earlier, we understand that he's going to stay in Pennsylvania State police custody for a little bit, then he's going to get medically assessed, then he is going to go to a state facility where he will remain for a life sentence that he's already been convicted of.

John, Sara?

SIDNER: And let's just mention again the pictures that you're seeing. Left hand side, that is Cavalcante surrounded by a number of the 500 members of law enforcement that were involved in the search and these folks involved in the capture that happened around 8:00 a.m. in Pennsylvania.

On the right hand side, you are looking at Chester County, Pennsylvania, as well, but at a press conference that is going to be had by the authorities. And there are a couple of pictures from our vantage point, they're a little bit hard to see. I think I see a vehicle with him standing, looks like next to it. But we will get details on why those pictures are there. What happened exactly?

We have heard from our John Miller, from his sources, that he was found. Cavalcante, the convicted killer, was found lying in a bunch of tall grass, sort of laying low on top of a rifle. Don't know if he was sleeping or if he was just literally trying to stay out of sight of law enforcement, but that is how they found him. Two different teams. One, Pennsylvania SWAT team, another BORTAC, which is the Customs and Border Controls Elite Unit. We are waiting for that press conference to begin.

But we still have Andrew McCabe, who is with us. Thank you, sir, for staying around. Can I ask you just a little bit about what we are hearing now from John Miller's sources about how he was captured? What does it tell you about him and about how perhaps they found him? Because if he was found near this pile of wood, which is near a home, clearly there are cars there. What sort of clues does that give you as to how he was captured?

MCCABE: Well, it's a really interesting development, right? It kind of breaks our assumptions that he was alone in the very deep woods, just kind of hiding in nature. And in some ways, it makes sense, right? The pile of logs is really -- it's an amorphous thing, especially with the tarps thrown over it.

You could pretty easily kind of burrow in there. I'm not saying that he did this, we don't know this yet, but it certainly would be possible to cover yourself with those tarps and sort of blend into the scenery.


So it shows to me a degree of kind of almost tactical sophistication. He's obviously very good at finding places to hide, kind of hiding in plain sight, keeps him close to a road. So if, if -- and we don't know this, it's speculation, but if he had some desires on using that right rifle to actually acquire a car, to carjack someone or take a vehicle from a person, you're right there on the road where you could potentially do that, of course, under cover of night.

So there's a lot of potential there. I should also say it doesn't surprise me that if he had laid down to rest for the daylight hours when he was found, that he would do so on top of or very close to the rifle. He wants to keep that. He wants to keep it hidden. But the rifle also serves another purpose for him.

In addition to a scope, which would be mounted on the very top of the rifle, we also heard that a flashlight mounted to it, which would be kind of just off to the side of the scope. That's probably his only source of illumination during the night when he's trying to make most of his moves through the woods or through the town.

So he can't afford to lose that thing. It's what he relies on during the dark.

BERMAN: All right, Andy McCabe, thank you very much.

This, I see the governor, Josh Shapiro, right there. This will be a press conference on Pennsylvania authorities on the capture of Danelo Cavalcante.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good morning. I'm pleased to be able to report that thanks to the extraordinary work of law enforcement officials from here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, our local leaders here in Chester County, and from our federal partners all across this nation. Shortly after 08:00, a.m., our suspect was captured.

I want to say, first and foremost, thank God there were no injuries to law enforcement or to the public. We obviously became deeply concerned after the suspect was able to steal a weapon. He was apprehended this morning with no shots fired.

I want to say thank you to the dedicated law enforcement professionals from every level who each and every day go out of their homes, leave their families, leave their loved ones to keep us safe. The public over the last 13 days has had a chance to see what excellence in law enforcement means, what true, dedicated professionalism is all about.

I couldn't be more proud to be standing up here today with these professionals from every level. And while they did extraordinary work, we had a tremendous assist from the public here in Chester County.

I want to say thank you to the public for their vigilance, thank you for the constructive tips that they shared. Thank you for remaining on guard. We recognize this has been a concerning and trying time for each and every one of you in the region. We want to thank you for your support of law enforcement and for your support of this effort that led to this capture today.

I hope the good people of Pennsylvania and indeed the folks all across this nation got a chance to see how government is supposed to work, how law enforcement is supposed to work, where we all come together, where we focus on the mission. And while the women and men up here behind me may wear different uniforms and different badges, we were here with common purpose, and that was to apprehend this suspect and keep people safe.

Leading this effort has been the Pennsylvania State Police. And I know I'm going to get booed by some of the folks behind me for saying this. I believe they are the finest law enforcement agency in the United States of America. And I could not be more proud to be the governor of this Commonwealth and to have the chance to serve in public service alongside these great leaders in the Pennsylvania State Police.

Leading the effort for us is Colonel Christopher Parris, who did yeoman's work overseeing this operation, together with Lieutenant Colonel Bivens. All Pennsylvanians gentlemen are indebted to you, for your bravery, for your courage, and for your tremendous leadership.

And with that, it's my honor to bring up the Colonel of the Pennsylvania State Police, Colonel Christopher Parris.


I would like to make a few brief comments. I'd like to dedicate those comments to the victims of Cavalcante and their families. At the end of the day, all the people behind me here work for justice and for the victims.