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School Districts Near Search For Escaped Inmate Closed Today; CEO: Could Take Years For Us To Fulfill Demand For Wegovy; Tennessee Third Graders Struggling With Reading Could Be Held Back. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired September 05, 2023 - 07:30   ET





We are just now learning that two Pennsylvania school districts in the area where authorities are searching for an escaped inmate announced it would be closed today after authorities told administrators, quote, "the search situation has evolved."

One hour from now, authorities will hold a news conference on the search for Danelo Cavalcante who has been on the run since last Thursday. He was serving life without parole for killing his ex- girlfriend, stabbing her 38 times in front of her two young children. Officials say he is, quote, "an extremely dangerous man."

CNN's Danny Freeman joins us now. Danny, we talked last hour. This seems to be a new development here. What's your sense of things on the ground?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Phil, I think that you really highlighted the main thing there that this -- these school districts were closed, and we're specifically mentioning the search area and the search situation evolving. I'll get to that in a little bit.

But I just want to first explain to you and to viewers perhaps why this search may and has been so difficult over the past few days. If you take a look around the prison area there really is a tremendous amount of wooded area. There are a lot of creeks. There are even cornfields for several parts of this area. Law enforcement officials say it's very, very easy to hide in this area.


FREEMAN (voice-over): Overnight, law enforcement officers fanned out in search of escaped convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante, blocking off roadways and scouring neighborhoods and thick woods within a two- mile radius of the prison he escaped from last Thursday near Pocopson Township in Pennsylvania.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: There is every reason to believe he remains in this area.

FREEMAN (voice-over): As the search stretches into its sixth day, police broadcasting a message from the fugitive's mother across the search area.

ROBERT CLARK, SUPERVISORY DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: As desperate as he is, maybe he has a change of thought and hears his mother telling him to surrender and his family cares about him. He's desperate. He's hungry. He's been in the woods. He's dirty. Perhaps this is what puts him over the edge where we can get a peaceful surrender.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Cavalcante has been spotted four times since his escape, most recently on Sunday.

BIVENS: It was a trooper, actually, that observed him at some distance. Gave chase but was unable -- because of the terrain and some other obstacles there was unable to get to him before he disappeared.


FREEMAN (voice-over): Ryan Drummond says the fugitive was in his home on Friday night.

DRUMMOND: I woke up my wife. I said, hey, I think there might be somebody downstairs. Get on the phone.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Drummond says he saw Cavalcante leave, walking back into the woods after taking some food.


DRUMMOND: Peaches, apples, green snap peas were -- had been missing.

FREEMAN (voice-over): A couple of hours later, a residential surveillance camera picked him up at 1:43 Saturday morning wearing the same prison-issued clothes and carrying a backpack police think he may have stolen.

BIVENS: He'll make mistakes. He'll show himself. He's already shown himself, we believe, a few times. We'll contain him and we will eventually catch him.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Cavalcante was recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2021 murder of his former girlfriend.

BIVENS: He is desperate. He does not want to be caught. He has very little to lose at this point.


FREEMAN: So, Phil, to get back to that breaking news that you said at the beginning of the piece, initially, law enforcement officials were saying that they were focusing really on a two-mile radius in the area around and a little bit south of the prison. Well now, as you said, two school districts saying that they're

canceling classes and also closing their offices out of an abundance of caution. The Kennett Consolidated School District specifically citing that the search situation has evolved. And then a second school district, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District saying the status of the situation with the escaped prisoner is the reason for closing these.

So again, as you said, we're going to have a press conference at 8:30. Hopefully, we'll learn more information about this search area as this manhunt continues.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, and you'll be keeping us posted every step of the way, Danny Freeman. Appreciate it, man. Thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So let's bring in Casey Jordan, a criminologist, behavioral analyst, and an attorney. I'm really interested -- and thanks for joining us this morning -- in your --


HARLOW: -- in your take on this strategy by officials there to broadcast a message from his mother in Portuguese -- in his native language -- from Brazil to try to sort of speak to his conscience, his heart, and try to get him to surrender.

JORDAN: If he had a conscience that might actually work. I mean, it's absolutely worth a try. But it's more of a psychological assault basically saying we're in touch with your mother. She knows what you've done. She knows you're on the loose. It's not the sort of thing that you're going to have him walk out of the woods with his hands up and go oh, I don't want to disappoint my mother.

This is a man who, as we just reported, stabbed his girlfriend 38 times in front of her young children. He has no conscience. And, of course, he is wanted for a murder about five years ago in Brazil. So it's -- the jury took 15 minutes to convict him.

The sheriff is absolutely correct that he is desperate and he's on the lam. You're not going to find any messages sent down from helicopters are going to have any impact on his -- he is not going to surrender.

MATTINGLY: Are you surprised that five days into this the search area remains as kind of confined as it is at this point?

JORDAN: Well, credit to the police for putting such a careful net around that area. And yet, in four days, they thought he was within a two-mile radius -- we've had four sightings -- and they still can't catch him.

He's walking into this man's kitchen stealing some food, and the man added he potentially took a steak knife. Now that really changes things. If he has stolen knives -- if he has a weapon then it makes sense that they would be closing schools because again, it's just unpredictable what he would do. But after four days, I really doubt he's still in that same area. I

think that he would be expanded outward.

HARLOW: You think so.

JORDAN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Well, we'll learn more in less than an hour at this news conference.

What does it mean when authorities say, as Danny reported, that they're working to stress him? What does that mean?

JORDAN: Well, that includes the audio recording of his --


JORDAN: -- mother begging him to turn himself in. Trying to point out that they are on him. That there have been four sightings. That people's home security cameras are picking him up.

Putting the images out there because he's tuned in. I guarantee you he is hearing what we know. He's reading the papers. He is overhearing radio broadcasts. He knows we're on him.

But what bothers me is they aren't putting enough of a description. He is only five feet tall.


JORDAN: He weighs 120 pounds. He barely speaks English. And he's still wearing his prison t-shirt and pants.

So getting that photo out there and putting a map out there of the radius they think he might still be in is our best chance of catching him soon.

HARLOW: It's interesting because you see the photo but the one we're showing is just the head.


HARLOW: It's not more.

JORDAN: But not too many five-feet guys and unkempt -- probably not shaved. If everyone's on the lookout for him we will find him.

HARLOW: Casey Jordan, thank you.

JORDAN: Good to be here.

MATTINGLY: Well, coming up, we'll hear from the CEO of one of the popular weight loss drugs on the market who says his company cannot keep up with the demand. That exclusive interview is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARS FRUERGAARD JORGENSEN, CEO, NOVO NORDISK: But I have the sense that it could actually take quite some years before we have actually fulfilled the demand out there.




MATTINGLY: Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk is now one of the most valuable companies in Europe, battling luxury goods giant LVMH, which includes a number of high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany. At one point, Novo Nordisk even overtook LVMH. The company's share price has soared 40 percent his year thanks to huge demand for its weight loss drugs, Ozempic and Wegovy. Its CEO warns it will take years for them to even catch up to the current demand.

CNN's Meg Tirrell sat down with him for an exclusive interview. Meg, this is a great get -- a fascinating interview. What else did he say?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And one of the biggest questions we get about these drugs is do you have to keep taking them, essentially forever, in order to sustain weight loss? We asked Novo Nordisk's CEO what their data shows about that. Here's what he said.


JORGENSEN: We have studies showing that the sustained weight loss up to two years. But we also started showing that if you stop treatment your weight will come back. So I think it's important also to note here that like those who live with obesity would know, obesity is a chronic disease just like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. You need to keep treating it or else the symptoms will come back.

TIRRELL: How do you address the suggestion that a weight loss drug should be temporary?

JORGENSEN: I would say that's based on a flawed logic around what is obesity. One can speculate over years of maintained weight loss, would that change your body's set point in terms of what is your perceived normal weight? We are all built by nature to store energy -- to store fat for, say, a cold winter or whatever. And maybe we can address that over time. But all of the evidence, so far, indicates that it's actually chronic treatment.



TIRRELL: So that's really this debate right now. And doctors do agree you do have to keep taking these. But I was talking with the FDA commissioner back in April and he suggested -- and he's a cardiologist. He said perhaps with more behavioral interventions that might not be the case. But right now, the data does support that you have to have the medicines. HARLOW: I mean, for so many reasons that's important, right? There have been some adverse side effects. You've talked to us about stomach paralysis being one of them. I'm not saying it's common but it's one of them -- the cost. It's so expensive and a lot of employers have stopped covering this stuff through their health plans because it's so expensive.

What about the long-term impact studies if you have to be on this for decades?

TIRRELL: Yeah, the cost is huge. I mean, $1,300 a month. And the insurance situation may be improving but it is still really tight.

And in terms of the long-term safety, it's something we asked about. He noted this class of drugs has been out there for 15 years.

But specifically, the CNN reporting on stomach paralysis we asked about. It hasn't been a proven link. But here is what he said about how they're looking at that issue.


JORGENSON: So, I can only say that we, as a company, take safety very seriously and we also apply it to collect all data that we become aware of. And when we look at the totality of that data we feel that it's a very well-understood mechanism and it's also safe and efficacious based on the label.

Obviously, when you get into, say, (INAUDIBLE) -- patient populations and have millions of patients using your medicine, you have different types of medical conditions among those patients. And sometimes, then, its causality is being mentioned and, of course, we have to look into that. But so far, there's nothing in what we can see that indicates any particular, say, safety concerns like what we talked about here.


TIRRELL: I mean, millions of people are potentially going to be taking these medicines and so you do get those background effects in the population.

Europe is also looking into whether there is a link to suicidal thoughts. So far, we have not seen this link. But when so many people are taking a drug that is something, obviously, that --


TIRRELL: -- regulators are going to care about.

MATTINGLY: I mean, and the other thing people are obviously paying attention to -- demand is enormous. That means shortages, generally, come with that, particularly given how fast this happened.

You learned some more about the timeline on potential shortages. What did you learn? TIRRELL: We did. We thought that they were just going to last a few months but he told us they may be a lot longer than that. Take a listen.


TIRRELL: I think you've limited some of the starter doses for patients trying to begin the medicine so that you can supply patients who are already on the medicine at the higher doses.

How long do you expect that to have to continue?

JORGENSON: Yeah. We decided to limit those starter doses because it's really important for us that patients who start on treatment can titrate up to the maintenance doses.

When will they stop? Well, if I knew how big the demand would end up being I could tell you. But I have the sense that it could actually take quite some years before we have actually fulfilled the demand out there.

There's more than 100 million Americans living with a BMI of above 30 and many of those would like to be on treatment. We are just scratching the surface.


TIRRELL: Guys, these are such huge medicines they're affecting the economy of Denmark -- the biggest drug class, potentially, of all time. And people in the industry are saying it's really remarkable to see.

HARLOW: It's really -- it's -- I'm so fascinated by it and the upsides for many people and the concerns for many people.


HARLOW: Great interview. Great get. Thank you.

TIRRELL: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: So, several states are starting to implement these new retention laws aimed at helping improve literacy rates for kids who fell behind during the pandemic, but is it holding struggling students back? Is that the right answer? We've got a new report ahead.


GREGORY CIZEK, EDUCATION PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: We are grasping at straws. We are grasping at every possible thing we can throw at it to address what was a massive issue caused by schools closing for a year.


(COMMERCIAL) [07:53:00]

HARLOW: You may be watching, getting your kids ready to go back to school. It is back-to-school day for millions of kids around the country. Tennessee is the latest state to hold back third graders, though, who have fallen behind in their reading. This is after the COVID pandemic left those big learning gaps for so many young students that they're still struggling with across the country.

Testing and what are known as retention laws are aimed at trying to improve that, but it's a really challenging situation for children and also a tough decision for parents.

Our Athena Jones joins us now at the table. You've been doing such great education-focused reporting.

And this is the struggle with parents. They want to do the right thing for their kid. What is the answer?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question. Research shows that children who can't read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times less likely to finish high school on time. And we know that just one in three fourth graders were proficient in reading last year, according to the nation's report card.

So we're seeing more and more states turning to these retention laws, but they're controversial. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer repealed a similar law after backlash.

So we went to Tennessee to speak with parents about this approach and whether they think it will work.


JONES (voice-over): Ralph Rolen says reading is his favorite subject --

RALPH ROLEN, STUDENT: I like dog man books. They're probably my favorite books.

JONES (voice-over): -- but he sometimes struggles. The Knoxville, Tennessee 9-year-old was in first grade when the COVID pandemic shut down schools.

CRYSTAL ROLEN, KNOXVILLE PARENT: The first grade is crucial for them to be able to read. So for them to not be there and not have -- and the parents not know what to do. I don't want him to be behind on reading, which will influence everything for the rest of his life.

JONES (voice-over): He scored below proficient on the reading or English language arts portion of Tennessee's state assessment test last spring. Under a new state law aimed at improving literacy, children like Ralph must repeat third grade unless they meet other conditions.


He was promoted after attending summer school and signing up to be tutored throughout fourth grade. The problem -- tutoring in third grade wasn't enough to help Ralph pass the test. And as for summer school --

C. ROLEN: They went for three to four weeks and as far as I can tell, summer school was not targeted or intensive towards the third graders that were needing the English language arts help. So I am lacking confidence that the tutoring in third, fourth, or that the summer school is effective enough. And then we're in the same position again for this coming year.

JONES (on camera): What do you mean the same position?

C. ROLEN: Fourth graders are going to be held to the same testing and the same retention law.

JONES (voice-over): Tennessee is the latest state to enact a third- grade retention law amid growing concerns about learning loss from the pandemic. But does retention work?

CIZEK: Repeating a grade works for some kids -- not all kids. We are grasping at straws. We are grasping at every possible thing we can throw at it to address what was a massive issue caused by schools closing for a year.

JONES (voice-over): Some studies suggest academic gains are short- lived and the practice increases dropout rates and bullying. But a similar law adopted in Mississippi a decade ago has shown some promise. Boston University researchers finding students who repeated third grade and got extra support saw substantial gains in their English language arts scores by sixth grade compared to students narrowly promoted to fourth grade.

CIZEK: Sixteen days of summer school or a few hours a week of tutoring -- that's not going to be effective at remediating a full year of learning loss for a struggling kid. So to have them repeat a grade, like third grade, for example, might be very effective for some kids and it depends on the quality of the intervention that they're getting.

JONES (voice-over): In Nashville, Marthia Sides-Shaw's daughter Echo, an avid read, was flagged as not proficient during the school year --

JONES (on camera): What does your teacher say about your reading skills?

ECHO, STUDENT: That they were really good.

JONES (VOICE-OVER): -- despite getting straight A's. She passed the test in May.

Her mother says Echo wasn't used to timed exams and that basing promotion on one test rather than considering children's grades and speaking to their teachers is the wrong approach. MARTHIA SIDES-SHAW, ECHO'S MOTHER: They should be going to fourth grade because they're ready to go to fourth grade.


JONES: Now, about 37 percent of Tennessee students in grades three through eight scored proficient in reading last spring. That means more than 60 percent did not. But while statewide data isn't yet available, Tennessee's three largest school districts told me they held back less than two percent of third graders.

Mississippi, where that retention law has seen some success -- they hold back between four and 10 percent of third graders each year. So some of the parents I spoke to were worried that there are too many ways that children can get promoted through the fourth grade even though they're struggling. They worried about its effectiveness on that front, so --


MATTINGLY: That was an interesting piece. You've been doing fascinating work --


MATTINGLY: -- and really, really helpful work on this topic, specifically. Thanks so much, Athena -- appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thanks, Athena.

MATTINGLY: Well, we are standing by for a pressor in the Pennsylvania manhunt for the convicted murderer who escaped prison. We're going to bring you -- bring that to you as soon as it happens.

And is North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un planning a sit-down in Russia with Vladimir Putin to discuss a possible arms deal? When it could happen and what we are learning -- that's all ahead.