Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Biden Launches New Ad; News Conference on Expanded Manhunt for Escaped Killer; Manhunt Continues in Pennsylvania. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 05, 2023 - 08:30   ET



BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Bigger parts of his strategy, particularly when you look at student loan repayments, for example, that I do think engage those younger voters and can help bring that base out.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But he lost on that in the - I mean the first strategy at the Supreme Court. Now they're trying to figure out if the other way is going to work.

Maura, last night I went back and re-read this great piece Peter Baker wrote a month ago in "The Times," and it was about why there's this disconnect between how the economy is doing and how people feel. And I thought this was so interesting. He wrote, "what may prove more vexing to Mr. Biden and his strategists is the possibility that his political prospects may be decoupled from such issues. In past generations, Americans were more reactive to events in evaluating their presidents, while in recent years they've been more locked in their partisan corner." Meaning, it's different now than it was. The way voters in both parties reacted to numbers on the economy was different now than it -- is different now than it was before.

Do you agree with that assessment?

MAURA GILLESPIE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, FORMER REP. ADAM KINZINGER: I do. I think people are so stuck in their political believes that they're not look objectively at anything. So, whatever Biden's touting about infrastructure, you're already seeing Republicans who are touting it, too, saying that, you know, it's good for our district, it's good for us. Like, here I am as a leader. They're not being objective in the fact that some of these people didn't vote for it. And people at home, they're looking at the Biden administration talking about inflation going down, yet prices for groceries, for gas, for housing all have gone up, 20, 30 percent and higher. So, there is a disconnect there. But, again, it's easier to keep your political helmets on and just stay in your kind of corners than really look at things, you know, objectively. And it's going to impact voters at the poll, you know, as they go to 2024 and beyond.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Shelby, to Basil's point, it was as if the Biden campaign had listened to what Basil said about a very targeted subset of voters that they needed to focus on last hour - or two hours - two hours ago, and then immediately bought ads there. That's how it works, right?

SMIKLE: That's how it works.

MATTINGLY: It sounds like it.

My question is, does the Trump campaign, when you talk to their team, are they thinking through things like that in a general election of like here's our kind of universe of voters, persuadables, or people that we need to come home and targeting them with kind of how their operation is operating right now?

SHELBY TALCOTT, POLITICS REPORTER, "SEMAFOR": Yes, I was actually talking to some of Trump's team last night about this situation. And one of the things they noted was, they view union workers as a possibility get that they might not have had in the past because of -

MATTINGLY: This is such a good story, by the way.

TALCOTT: Because of Biden's tumultuous relationship.


HARLOW: If you ask the UAW, they might.

TALCOTT: Exactly. And so that's one of their kind of sect of voters that they might not have necessarily had in the past but this time around they think they're gettable. And so you should expect them to kind of find ways to hone in on that sect of workers and try to get them over to their side.

SMIKLE: Yes, I -- going back to the question that you asked earlier, there's always been this tension between fact and faith, right?

HARLOW: Fact - yes.

SMIKLE: What are the - what are - what is the - what are the actual numbers versus what do I believe. And that's a universal sort of tension in politics. But one of the things that I think the Biden team really needs to do in the - in -- as you talk about this decoupling -


SMIKLE: Is say, the good economy that you're experiencing, even if you have some concerns about it, is also aligned with good governance. That's what we do. That's what Biden/Harris has done and will continue to do. What do you get on the other side of that? You get turmoil. You get chaos. And if you are concerned about a good economy going forward, you vote for the party that gives you good governance and good policy and not the chaos. And I think that has to be part of that - of that very important Biden/Harris message for 2024.

HARLOW: I hear you but, I just -- if you're sitting at home - and I just came from a week in our wonderful state of Minnesota. And if I'm sitting there and I'm feeding my kids and I'm going to buy eggs and they do cost me more and my mortgage is at 7 percent, you know, if I'm trying to get a new one, so I can't afford to get a new, new home and my rent is too high, I'm thinking, I don't want chaos but my family can't -- I can't sustain their life like this.

GILLESPIE: Right. And I think this is where candidates that are running for the 2024 GOP spot have a real opportunity to capitalize on it. We need strong leadership in America. We need someone who understands the issues and who can present a plan. And I think that's what these candidates should be doing because Donald Trump doesn't have a plan.

HARLOW: Stand by, guys. We want to get to this breaking news on this manhunt for the convicted murderer in Pennsylvania.

Let's listen in.


Joining me today is District Attorney Deb Ryan and chief County Detective David Sassa from the Chester County DA'S office.

As you know, on the morning of Thursday, August 31st, inmate Danelo Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison. Since the day of the escape, there have been several credible sightings within an area I described to you yesterday within Pocopson Township. We had one additional sighting of Cavalcante last evening within that perimeter and conducted a multiple-hours long search of the area but were unable to locate him.


Early this morning we were notified by security at Longwood Gardens that they had trail camera photos taken on their property which appear to be Cavalcante. This area is just south of the perimeter. Investigators quickly examined those photos and we can confirm it is Cavalcante. The photos confirm that Cavalcante has not changed his appearance, but also that he has obtained a backpack, a duffle sling type pack, and a hooded sweatshirt. Cavalcante is depicted in the photo walking north at 8:21 p.m. and then back south through the same location at 9:33 p.m.

Working with the district attorney's office, several steps were quickly taken, including shifting our perimeter in an attempt to contain him between the southern end of the established perimeter and an area south of Route 1. The district attorney and I had a lengthy conversation yesterday afternoon with the superintendents of a number of area school districts. We had assured them that if anything changed we would promptly notify them. As promised, that notification occurred at approximately 5:00 a.m., resulting in a decision by the Unionville- Chadds Ford and Kennett Consolidated School Districts to cancel classes for the day. We will continue to work with those districts to determine what will occur in coming days.

A reverse 911 call was sent out to the residents within a 1.5-mile area of the camera that was located. And that occurred at 5:27 a.m. This was expanded to three miles at around 7:00 a.m. We had already requested and begun to mobilize resources from additional federal agencies last evening to include the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. People and equipment from those agencies is being mobilized and added to the search as we speak.

We continue to ask for public's help by familiarizing themselves with the photograph and the description of Cavalcante. We are also asking people in an expanded area from the Pocopson Township area south to be alert and to call us with anything suspicious. We ask them to please secure homes, outbuildings and vehicles. Cavalcante has clearly already obtained some clothing and unknown other supplies and we want to minimize any opportunity to obtain anything more. It is important we keep pressure on him as we continue this hunt.

We are also asking residents and businesses anywhere in or near this area to check their home and business security cameras and call us with anything suspicious that they might observe. A tip line has been established, and we can be reached at 717-562-2987. That was 717-562- 2987.

We remind everyone that a reward totaling up to $10,000 has been offered for information leading to the capture of Danelo Cavalcante.

What I would also ask is that people consider signing up for the alerts here in Chester County and it's -- they can sign up at,

And with that we will be happy to take any questions that you might have at this time.

QUESTION: So did you ever -

BIVENS: Oh. And, I'm sorry, just one second.

If we could display the photos here.

I can start with a question while he's getting those photos up.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) believe that he's now actually out of that two- mile radius that you were initially looking in yesterday?

BIVENS: Yes. We believe he is just south of that radius. And that's why, again, we've shifted that perimeter now to include that area.

What I can tell you is, I think that - that what's occurred is that that pressure that we've been putting on him is working. We squeezed him enough over period of a few days (INAUDIBLE) able to get any relief and managed to find a place to get out. Obviously, I wish we would have been able to capture him without him getting through that perimeter. But - but it is also not shocking. It's dark. It's a large area. And not to make excuses. I mean it's just difficult terrain and things.

QUESTION: Is this area more remote or is it more open (ph)?

BIVENS: No. Actually, I think this is a little more open. I'm encouraged by the fact that he's there. The other thing I'm encouraged by is that we realized within just a few hours where he was. And so he's not had a tremendous amount of time to move a long distance. And so, again, because it's another opportunity to now try and squeeze him within that perimeter.

QUESTION: Do you think he walked across Baltimore Pike (ph)? How do you think - I mean are you looking at the possibility that he crossed that busy --

BIVENS: Oh, we're certainly looking into that possibility. Again, where he was spotted, he was not across Baltimore Pike there. But, obviously, we consider anything and the perimeter has expanded south of Route 1 as well.

QUESTION: Is this trail camera monitored either by law enforcement or by Longwood 24/7 or is it -

BIVENS: No, it was a private camera and an individual checked it and notified us promptly.



QUESTION: It's not a - it's not a Longwood Gardens camera?

BIVENS: It's my understanding that they allow some others to put cameras on their property, and that individual provided the information.

QUESTION: Any idea how he got the supplies? Were these the result of burglaries?

BIVENS: I can't confirm at this point where he got those supplies. Again, obviously, picked them up somewhere along the way. So, obviously, he got into a structure, a car, something, and obtained, you know, some clothing.

In fact, we have the pictures up here now.

You can see from this picture he's got a sling-type duffle bag. You can also see shorter straps. In another photo here that you'll see in just a minute, he's got a backpack on -- on his back as well. So, he's got two packs.

He also, in another picture you'll see, he's obtained a hooded sweatshirt. If we can - and so what I would tell you is that, you know, I mentioned that there were two different times. So, what we believe happened is, he - he walked into that area, was likely not well oriented, headed north, probably ran into the perimeter, realized he couldn't go that way, and turned the opposite direction and came back through the camera a second time. So, this is when, with the pack on and the hoodie, he's headed north, actually, here. And then about roughly an hour later he's coming back south without the hoodie on.

QUESTION: That photo is from when? 9:30?

BIVENS: So it's -- let me get the time here. It was - yes, the time is an hour off that's depicted on the camera. I'm sorry, give me just a minute to find my times here. I'll get that for you here in just a minute. But it was about an hour

apart. It was roughly 8:20 and 9:30.

QUESTION: We've heard - we've heard 10:30 for the shirt off --

BIVENS: I understand that. Again, the timestamp on the photo should be nine -- I mean the timestamp is an hour off. It's actually 9:30 and --


BIVENS: And the other one was 8:30 or thereabouts. 9:33 is the one. 8:21 was the first one. So, he's headed north at 8:21. It says 9:21. And then he's headed south at 9:33.

QUESTION: So, are you widening the perimeter or moving it south? How would you describe it?

BIVENS: We're expanding the perimeter, but we're also eliminating the northern end of that perimeter. So, the community that was surrounded by that won't be surrounded by it now. So, if you went to the southern end of what we had established previously as a perimeter and go south from there, down and across Baltimore Pike, that would be the current area.

QUESTION: Did he make a mistake then or is this just another attempt - another successful attempt of him evading authorities at this point?

BIVENS: Oh, I think he's absolutely succumbing to the pressure. And, yes, he's trying to escape. And that's what he managed to do. He found a - he found a point that he could squeeze through that perimeter and he traveled south. We'll now expand that perimeter and move it so that we can try and encapsulate him again. And we're already actively searching those areas.

QUESTION: It's been six days. I mean do you know anything more about his background? Does he have any survival skills? I mean he's been foraging clearly. He's been stealing stuff. What can you tell the public? I mean this guy is clearly cunning and he's been able to evade you guys for six days now.

BIVENS: We're not aware of any formal training in terms of survival skills. You're dealing with someone who's desperate and who doesn't want to be caught. And so, if he can find something, some clothing, if he can find some shelter, if he can find some food, he is going to take advantage of whatever he finds. And that's why, again, we pressure him to not allow him the luxury of rest and then we're asking the public to help us by making sure things are secure so that we can minimize his opportunities to obtain those things that he doesn't otherwise have.

He doesn't have -- to our knowledge, he doesn't have cashes out there or any supplies that he can go to and obtain, as we've seen in some other searches we've done. That's not the case here. I believe this was just an opportunity that he took to get out of the jail. And once out, he's now - he's now winging it. And so he does what he has to do to try and avoid escape - or try and avoid capture I mean. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) messages from his mother to convince him to turn

himself back in?

BIVENS: We have not since yesterday. And we'll have to evaluate whether - whether we think that would be effective going forward.

QUESTION: Long Gardens is closed today. Are you going to be searching all the gardens?

BIVENS: Longwood Gardens is closed. And we will be in that area, not only Longwood Gardens, but the entire area we will be pushing through.


QUESTION: He could walk to Delaware today if he was able to walk that far. Are you coordinating with officials in Delaware, the Delaware State Police?

BIVENS: We are.

QUESTION: And what -- does that change anything if he crosses the state line?

BIVENS: It really doesn't. There's a federal warrant that the marshals have obtained for him, that's, again, it's a federal warrants. So, it covers us regardless where he goes.


BIVENS: At this point, I don't believe he has made it to Delaware. I believe he's still well into Pennsylvania. And we're going to act on that and continue to pressure him.

But, at the same time, we always look at options. Even while we were - we were looking at that perimeter. As I said to you yesterday, we follow up on any tip. We don't discount anything. And certainly that's why, you know, in this case there's a really solid tip, but we've had lots of others. We follow up on those as well and -- on the chance that he has managed to get out of that area. And certainly, you know, even prior to this, we had already been coordinating with Delaware.

QUESTION: What's the latest on the investigation into how he was actually able to get out of prison? Is there any clarity on what happened?

BIVENS: My understanding is there's not going to be anything released on that right away. I think the investigation is still ongoing.

I can tell you that there have been many interviews done and both in an effort to investigate the escape, but also to assist us in looking at any plans, any contacts he may have had on the outside. That kind of thing. So, that all factors into it. And unless the district attorney has something else to add, I would - I would just say that we're not in a position to start releasing anything on that yet.

QUESTON: What's the situation at the prison now? Are the inmates still on lockdown? Are there transports going in and out of there?

BIVENS: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: With the search you all have been saying that heavily wooded area. Could you describe to the public what that means, what you're going through in terrain? Because some people are saying, oh, why isn't he caught yet. It's been six days. Where are the dogs, that kind of stuff.


QUESTION: Can you describe what it's like out there?

BIVENS: What I would describe to you, you know, again, you've heard me refer to other searches. I mean the terrain here, while one would think, OK, we're not in the middle of a national forest or something else. What you have, though, are significant parcels of wooded area with a lot of undergrowth. So thick that our searchers can't be more than a couple of yards apart where they at times they lose sight of one another. It's so thick that they have to hack their way through or go around and try and make sure that they've still covered that area because they just -- you can't walk through it. That's certainly not everywhere. But there are large patches of that kind of undergrowth in the woods.

You know, additionally, one of the challenges you have here that you don't have out in a larger forest is, you've got people with large yards, parcels of land, multiple acres with outbuildings and, you know, shrubbery, landscaping, all kinds of things, sheds that afford an opportunity to hide. Again, none of it insurmountable, but it makes for additional challenges when you're searching those areas.

There are a lot of places that someone can hide. And, again, you would think, you know, we're in a -- closer to an urban area here, there wouldn't be all of these forests. There are. And so --

QUESTION: So, what's the long-term game plan here? I mean it's been six days. If this goes into a seventh, eighth, goes into next week or a month, I mean, are you going to start scaling down resources or just keep throwing (INAUDIBLE)?

BIVENS: The long-term game plan is, as long as we believe we're being effective, and I do believe, we will continue with this search. We will continue a hard search and we'll capture him.

We've had searches that have gone well in excess of a month. We've kept the pressure on. He's a bad guy. He needs to be in custody. And we're determined to capture him. So, as long as we have the ability to identify areas that are suitable for us to be searching, we will continue to do that. And, again, I am confident that in the long run he will be captured.

QUESTION: You mentioned the hooded sweatshirt. What is current description? Do you have a clothing description or any -

BIVENS: I don't have a color or anything on that sweatshirt yet at this point. We're still analyzing some things. One of the challenges is, with a picture like this, it's, you know, night vision or infrared and so colors don't translate easily. We're having some people take a look at it to see if we can make a determination from it, but I don't have the color or anything to provide you at this point.

QUESTION: How did it come about that state police started --

MATTINGLY: We're going to break away. You've been watching a press conference in Westchester, Pennsylvania, related to an individual who is a convicted felon with no prospect of actually getting out of prison for murder. He's been on the run six days now. And they're just giving an update in a press conference for the first time.

Joining us now, CNN's Danny Freeman, Casey Jordan, criminologist and behavioral analyst and attorney, and Charles Ramsey, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former Philadelphia police commissioner.


Danny, as our correspondent that's been on the ground there for the entirety of this search, what stood out to you? What was the biggest news that you took away from that?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the biggest news, Phil, is what we were teasing a little bit earlier this hour, that it does appear now that this search has expanded quite a bit. Initially, law enforcement officials were saying that the search was really focused to a two mile radius just south of the Chester County Prison, where we are right here. But now, last night, law enforcement officials say that this man, Danelo Cavalcante, was actually spotted on trail cameras in Longwood Gardens around 9:30 at night. I hope we have the images. You can see him. It's kind of an eerie picture. It's him shirtless with a backpack still potentially wearing the prison-issued pants. Again, captured on a trail camera around 8:20 first and then again at around 9:30 last night on Monday night.

And, Phil, I just want to describe Longwood Gardens just for viewers in case they're unfamiliar with this particular area. It's a very popular tourist spot. Also locals in the greater Philly region, they enjoy going there. It's a 200-acre sprawling space with a lot of gardens, a lot of lush, open meadows as well, and also winding paths. And this Longwood Gardens had been closed because of the investigation during part of the weekend, but then it seemed like the search was being focused a little bit north of there.

Now, in this press conference, we just learned the Pennsylvania State Police said that they've cleared some of the more northern parts of their search and now they're looking at Longwood Gardens. But, again, like I said, 200 acres. It's a huge space there.

And we've been seeing a lot of Pennsylvania State Police troopers and other police presence all surrounding that area there.

HARLOW: Commissioner Ramsey, you were the police chief in Philadelphia. As you listen to this and you heard that they saw him again, someone saw him again last night and that he's getting into structures or buildings and getting clothes and one would think probably - maybe cash, some sort of food, sustenance, what are your biggest questions this morning as they now expand the search radius?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, they're doing the right thing. They've adjusted their search area. They did recommend and they followed the recommendations to get those schools closed. It's not so much the schools themselves are in danger, but you have to look at the area where the students are drawn from because now you've got kids that will be standing on side roads and so forth waiting for buses to be picked up. So, you don't want to expose them to anything at all.

He's already apparently made entry into something. It could be a vehicle. It could be a shed. It could be a home. And that's why you see the change of clothes, you see the backpacks.

He needs money. He needs food. He needs transportation. And so he's still desperate. And he's going to continue to do whatever he can do to get out of that area because right now he's pinned in.

And it's difficult terrain. It taking time to be able to thoroughly search it. But eventually they'll get him. But in the meantime you just hope that no one else is put in any kind of danger because he is desperate and he will break into a house. He will carjack a vehicle, if he can. Those kinds of things you have to be very, very concerned about. And he may have access to a weapon now if he broke into a home. He could have a knife. He could have an edged weapon. He could have a gun.

MATTINGLY: Casey, to Commissioner Ramsey's point, I think this is my question, listening to the press conference, that this was kind of framed as a positive result because they have the stress efforts, the pressure on him are working, that's why he went outside of the search radius. Explain that, if you can, because it's been five and a half, six days at this point.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Right. And they're trying to triangulate the information. They're getting a lot of tips. Now, we know that at least two, maybe up to four burglaries in that area could be attributed to him. And, of course, we have that really surprising testimony of the man he broke into his house, in his kitchen -



JORDAN: And he flashed his -- the lights five times and the guy flashed the light back. I mean the temerity of that. Like, thanks for letting me go and out the door with food.

But people will be missing that duffel bag, that sweatshirt, that backpack. And the more they can ask the public to help, has anyone taken clothes off your clothesline, has anyone broken into your shed or your basement. You have to remember, he had the foresight to escape on Labor Day weekend. So, a lot of people had been away and may not even know that their homes or garages have been broken into. As they get that data, yes, I believe this is - this is him who broke

into my house, they will be able to get a clearer path and map it out where they think he is going. And that's why they keep expanding the perimeter.

I think it would be really helpful if they mapped it for us. If they showed us exactly where the sightings were, where the burglaries were, because the public, I'm convinced, are going to solve this, mostly with their home security cameras.

HARLOW: And at least there are a lot of those now.


HARLOW: Ring doorbell cameras, et cetera.

Commissioner Ramsey, I thought it was interesting. One of the journalists in that room asked about, well, what if he walks into Delaware, and the chief there said basically no issue. We've got jurisdiction to keep searching wherever he goes.


There's a federal warrant here. But that would complicate things for them big time, right?

RAMSEY: Well, not necessarily. I mean, obviously, the Delaware State Police and others from that area would be involved in a search, but they would just simply shift the area that they're searching. So, I mean, this guy is wanted for homicide. He is a very dangerous individual. They will use every resource they have available to them. And, of course, they already have the U.S. Marshals, FBI and others that are involved in the search. So, they'll just continue to search. Hopefully he doesn't make it to Delaware.

HARLOW: Right.

RAMSEY: But if he does, it's not going to make any difference. They will keep up the pressure.

HARLOW: All right. Good to know.

MATTINGLY: All right, Casey Jordan, Charles Ramsey, our Danny Freeman was on the ground, thank you, guys, very much. We're going to keep following this. A lot of news clearly still to come on it.

And "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" is going to start and take you more of this right after this break.