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CNN This Morning

Source: Escaped Killer Danilo Cavalcante In Pennsylvania In Custody, Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 08:30   ET



DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we are waiting for more details that we will hopefully get at around 9 am when Pennsylvania State police will a press conference presumably announcing this capture officially. Back to you.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Hey, Danny, when -- Did you notice a tempo shift? You're talking about how you could see kind of the air assets and the vehicles? Do you notice something change over the course of the last hour or so? Or is this just been a pretty steady effort over the course of the last couple days?

FREEMAN: So here's the thing. It definitely has been a steady effort, certainly since last -- yesterday, right. When we found out that Cavalcante had a rifle, obviously, law enforcement really changing their tone, saying that we're going to make this intense push today. But honestly, Phil, this morning, when we saw law enforcement presence returning to this area, it still seemed pretty business as usual. There were some updates -- Rather, there were some activity overnight. But we saw what looked like the regular shifts change at around seven o'clock this morning.

We saw them bringing in the armored vehicles again. We saw them bringing in the Pennsylvania State Police horses that we've seen a comb through some of the river beds again. So all of that, frankly, seemed pretty normal of what we've seen in the past 2448 hours, specifically in this part of Chester County.

But like I said, the thing that really stood out to me and our crew here on the ground was the more tightly focused aerial support. Because you know, when we've been seeing these choppers, of these fixed wings up, they're making large miles long circles around the area, really think, looking to see if they can spot anything or even just providing some support to troopers on the ground. Take a look here, take a look there. But this has been a very, very focused circle. And I think you can hear some folks honking as this news starts to spread that Danelo Cavalcante has been captured.

There's already some support that we're seeing from local folks giving to the troopers who are standing at this intersection at the northeast corner of this perimeter. Phil, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Danny, just excellent reporting. Stay with us as we bring in CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence analyst, John Miller. They got him, John.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: They got him. It appears from what I'm hearing that they captured him without incident meaning as far as I can tell, at this point, he's OK they're OK so.

HARLOW: That's pretty remarkable, right.

MILLER: Some of the fears we've been talking about may not have been realized. This is something that seems to have happened fairly recently. So where do we go from here? Number one, he's in custody, the first thing that they would probably like to do is talk to him, which is, where have you been? What have you done? Who has helped you? They probably can't do that, because he is currently represented by counsel in his murder case, which is on appeal, so likely, that won't happen.

Second thing is, he's in custody, they're going to take him to another facility. I'm about 100 percent Sure, it will not be the one he escaped from but a more secure facility. He was to be transferred from that county facility to a state prison. But because he is obviously an extreme escape risk, not just escape risk, they'll have to -- they'll have to take him somewhere else.

MATTINGLY: I want to go back to the question that Poppy just asked, the surprise that there was no, it doesn't seem to have been any incident that there doesn't seem to have been any use of his weapon, at least that we know of up to this point. We were talking 20 minutes prior. And that seemed to be almost an inevitability, given kind of his behavioral construct how he'd been operating. Why do you think that was?

MILLER: Well, we don't know what we don't know. But the models are worn out and tired and ran into him and he surrendered peacefully. The other model is, you know, he tends to sleep by daylight and operate by nightlight, they may have come upon him while he was asleep. These are details they're putting together. We're expecting a press conference, that's going to be somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30. Probably closer to 9:30. Where we'll -- we'll hear this story.

But the simple parts of it is it's over. And, and it appears everybody's OK.

HARLOW: So if you were a journalist, we know Danny will be at that 9:30 am press conference. What do you think are the most pressing questions Police authorities need to answer?

MILLER: I think it's where has he been? How did he get so far and -- and what was his reaction to being captured? It's going to be really interesting. If he was awake, whether he surrendered peacefully or whether it was a chase. Whether he had the gun with him, or that was in a stash somewhere. There's a lot -- there's a lot we're going to learn.

MATTINGLY: Right, John, stay with us. We have the official tweet coming out from Pennsylvania State Police. I want to pull that up, if I can in a second. Actually don't have that. Here it is, right here. A press conference announcing details of the capture of Danelo Cavalcante is scheduled for 9:30 am at the Pro-Mar-Lin Fire Company, 36 firehouse drive, it's Kennett square, Pennsylvania. THE CAPTURE in all caps. Certainly you can understand that emphasis given the course of the last 14 days and the efforts.

I think frustration and what you could hear in some of the past press conferences from law enforcement as they went through this.


Now at 9:30 as you noted from a law enforcement perspective again I think I think we were to some degree surprised over the course of the last two weeks that it had taken this long, even though the search areas seem to be not 10 states wide. You never really worried though, why not?

MILLER: Because if you look at the stats, most people who break out of prison are literally arrested within 24 hours, and most of them walking on the road away from the prison. This was a person who had a plan. This was a person who had the intestinal fortitude to undergo many challenges while on the run. His mother told us about a lot of that, but --

HARLOW: These are -- sorry to interrupt, these are live pictures. This is the first we're all seeing of Danelo Cavalcante. He is in custody. John, walk us through what you see here.

MILLER: I see a SWAT team, which is probably the people who took him into custody. And I see a guy who has a change of clothes that we're not familiar with, which is a new sweatshirt and a dark pair of pants. There were reports that a backpack was found overnight. That meant that had things in it clothing items and so on that may have been his, is that possibly what spurred them into a certain area.

But he has been doing these kinds of home invasions and burglaries and garage you know, sifting things, trying to find different outfits to keep changing his appearance. And you know, our last reporting was, he was shirtless. So he clearly has had the stashes while he's hiding out. But you can tell even as -- as he's walking, he's a guy who's worn down from this fight.

MATTINGLY: We've talked about the scale of the federal and state resources, what we're looking at right now, you mentioned it's a SWAT team, do you have any sense of who they is different uniforms, along with the SWAT officials that are there? Who we're looking at? Why there are so many of them?

MILLER: Well, I think, number one, every SWAT team in Pennsylvania, give or take, you know, had contributed people to that, as well as the FBI, the ATF, Customs and Border Patrol. A lot of specialized units. You know, the FBI's operation tech -- operational technology --

MATTINGLY: Why are they -- Look they're cutting off his shirt right now, why would they be cutting off his shirt?

MILLER: Could be for purposes of identification, meaning --

HARLOW: -- That tattoo on his back.

MILLER: He's known to have, you know, specific tattoos. And they want to be able to confirm that they have not just a guy wandering in the woods, but the guy.

HARLOW: I'm going to bring Danny Freeman in as well on the ground. And, Danny, as I bring you in, we're just learning that this reverse 911 call has gone out to people on the ground telling them to search for Danelo Cavalcante is over. The suspect is now in custody. Remember, this was a community terrorized by this and told to stay inside. And authorities want them to know that he is caught.

FREEMAN: That's absolutely right. And remember, it's not just this immediate community that we're in right now in South Coventry Township. It's really the entirety of Chester County. I mean, and quite frankly, many of the neighboring counties as well who have been on edge for 14 days since this inmate escaped. And just looking at some of these live photos, Poppy. I mean, this is the moment that so many in law enforcement have really been waiting for as well.

They've been waiting for the moments that they could bring him into custody. I'm sure they are glad that we have aerial footage of this whole process taking place. You can see Pennsylvania State Police down there. And you can see some of those enormous assets as well that have been brought in over the course of this investigation, especially in the past 48 hours when there was this truly intense show of force after that revelation came out that Cavalcante did indeed get his hands on a rifle.

But no doubt, like I said before, we've been out here at this particular intersection on the corner of the northeastern most part of the perimeter just as I keep saying as well, a few miles it seems from where helicopters are watching Cavalcante from above. And folks have been applauding there have been honks towards these troopers. There is definitely a sense of relief. And frankly, thanks that Pennsylvania State Police and this entire state, federal and local law enforcement apparatus has been able to apprehend Cavalcante here.

MATTINGLY: John, I just want to go back to what we've been watching on screen here because I think it gets to what you suspected might be happening. Not only was his sweatshirt and his T-shirt taken off cut off but also seemed they didn't have his pants on either. He was completely naked. But and then they were taking photos. And you think that's an identification of markings or tattoos or confirmation.

MILLER: Right. Exactly. And I mean, there's another step to that. They have his biometrics, so they have his DNA because he's been a prisoner. They have you know, his friends but these are the immediate identifications they can make to make sure that they have a person who fits the unique characteristics if not the biometric characteristics of the person they're looking for.

[08:40:00] HARLOW: If you're just joining us, I want to reset the breaking news, you're looking at live pictures of the capture of escape fugitive, Danelo Cavalcante, a convicted murderer who has been on the lam for more than two weeks. And these are aerial images of just an enormous SWAT team taking him down, cuffed, putting him into this van, cutting off his shirt as they identify him.

With us now, former Supervisory Special Agent, Scott Duffey joins us. Context of this, you did something very similar in 1999, with an escaped killer on the run, what are your thoughts as we wait for this press conference?

SCOTT DUFFEY, SUPERVISORY FBI SPECIAL AGENT (RET.): Well, good morning to you both. Thanks for having me on. I'm telling you; I'm feeling the same chills just watching the same thing that everybody's watching, and brings back all of the flood of emotions from 1999. The fact that he's caught, the fact that no, from -- from what I gather, nobody injured, it's fantastic. And to have taken him into custody, it's just there's a lot of emotions.

And as -- as I saw that the all the different vehicles kind of rushing out of the scene, trying to head to, to wherever they're going, they're all -- they're all feeling the same thing. That one moment of elation, just bringing calm this to a to a ravaged community. And they're probably all heading to put eyes on him to say this is who we've been looking for, for the last two weeks, so it's a tremendous celebration.

Especially with all that being said, the professionals got him. They took the fight to him and they took him into custody without -- it looks like without -- without incident.

MATTINGLY: Can you describe kind of the combination of anxiety and intensity that would be felt just before this moment? Like how these guys were feeling in law enforcement you're looking at on the ground over the course of the last several days, especially when they found out he was armed?

DUFFEY: Yes, that that just raised the tensions to -- to a whole new level. There -- They're law enforcement is on high alert, right. And so everybody's looking up, they're looking 360. But then to have confirmation that he took a gun and that he is armed, just -- just send that acute awareness to a whole new level. So you know, you have -- you have the -- the neighbors that are locking doors and doing everything shutter in place, but law enforcement is out there, and they are searching day and night, especially with the storms last night.

But to be able to zero in on him from what I gather, get the right people in place, the tactical units. It's game over, and especially to be able to walk him to a Police car. It's just no words to describe. Law enforcement is that -- that -- that high is still very high. They're all on cloud nine, and will be for some time.

HARLOW: John Miller. Now, I want you to weigh in here. This is your expertise. And we're seeing a live play out here. We're waiting for the press conference at 9:30. Your thoughts?

MATTINGLY: You know this is reflective of other man hunts we've seen. And other man as we've seen in Pennsylvania. It's really interesting because these are fairly rare occurrences. But in -- in just the past recent years, you had the case of Eric Bryan, domestic terrorist to open fire on Pennsylvania State Police. That was a 48 day man hunt through the woods using the same tactics.

Many of the same people, it ended in a terrible shootout where the face of this investigation, the voice of this investigation, George Bevins the lieutenant colonel from the State Police said this was the most intense gun battle he had ever seen in his career. Much more recently, in July, we had the case of Michael Burnham, a survivalist, a former Military man who went into the woods, that lasted about 10 days. And you see the marshals -- the U.S. Marshals, they are in the man hunting business. The state Police, they've been through this, as our agent was just describing, you know, multiple times in very similar dynamics.

In some way, this is a familiar ending for them. Much better than in the Friend case. And, and similar to the Burnham case, but I think these things have brought them closer together as a team.

HARLOW: Can I ask you what they're doing right now? So I had expected them to put them in the in the van, is that even the right term? Close the door and go. Are they interrogating him right now? Are they asking him questions? What are they doing in there right now with him?


MILLER: You know, I don't think that they can get too far into the interrogation except for the public safety part of it, which is, you know, anything that would constitute an immediate threat to somebody else, because as we've talked about before, he's, he's represented by a lawyer. But I think they're probably settling more on, where are we going? Where are we bringing him? Are they ready?

HARLOW: And that's a good point. Are they ready to take him in wherever we're taking him?

MILLER: Right.


MATTINGLY: Hey, Danny. And for those of you who are watching on the left is just moments ago when we saw Danelo Cavalcante, who was led in handcuffs and would look to be different clothing than we had seen earlier in the week. We knew he had changed clothes, in handcuffs to the picture. We're on your right where he has been now loaded in handcuffs into that law enforcement vehicle.

Before being loaded in his sweatshirt and pants had been removed for what we believe it was going to John Miller looked to be identification purposes. Still waiting to see where he will head next. Do we still have Danny, I wanted to ask Danny Freeman a question just because he's been on the ground. And Danny, you -- you've literally covered this seems like every hour of the last 14 days. The community itself -- we have. I know, it's been a long couple of weeks.

But the community itself, we talk constantly about where law enforcement is, what their strategy is, what their plan is, the community itself, when you have talked to people in the community, I try to imagine the fear as a parent as somebody who would live in the area. What was your sense of that?

FREEMAN: Well, I'll go a step further, Phil, not only as a parent, but just as someone who lives in this area. I spoke to actually a gentleman who's a contributor for CNN, he came up to this area because his mother lives right in the search perimeter. And he said, I'm just afraid, because my mom is here, basically by herself. And I want to stay over just to give some sort of peace of mind and comfort. That's really what people have been thinking about. You know, how do I secure my home protect my house?

Because as of Monday night, they knew definitively he was here. And of course, it turns out he was here the whole time. Let me actually talk about this, Phil, because we were looking at these pictures right now. And I have a little bit more information as to where exactly this is. Let's be very clear. This capture, it appears happened smack dab in the middle of this most recent perimeter that the Police set up.

We're in South Coventry Township, we're on the north eastern portion of this perimeter. And if I'm looking at the map, and we can see where some of these helicopters that are providing this live footage are, it seems that it's just maybe a mile, two miles south of where we are just off of Route 100. And I'm looking at the map here, again, near where these images you're looking at with this intense Police presence.

And you can see there is the French Creek that's a location that we've been talking about when we've been asking law enforcement folks where they're searching. And it's also seems to be centered very close to Priser Road, which is also an offshoot of Pottstown Pike, that's route 100 that we're standing on right over here. So all signs here seem to suggest that this capture happened in this perimeter.

And that has been one of the main messages that Pennsylvania State Police has been trying to say, from the moment Cavalcante escaped the Longwood Gardens area, we believe he's in this perimeter, we believe we have in contained, we have set up troopers basically every, you know, 200 to 300 feet to try and seal him in, to try and trap him in and then ultimately flush him out. It seems as though at this moment, that is what has happened here. And you can see the law enforcement agents gathering out there on the scene, waiting to see where this vehicle goes next.

And I am sure at 9:30 when this Pennsylvania State Police press conference occurs, we'll get more details exactly about exactly how they were able to take Cavalcante into custody here.

HARLOW: Danny, this vehicle that our viewers are watching, a big black vehicle, there's a motorcade now surrounding it, has Danelo Cavalcante inside, John Miller. Where is he going? And when he gets there, what happens? MILLER: They anticipated, I think, in optimistic terms that they were going to catch him. So they must have a designated space where they intend to bring him. He's going to undergo a medical check, and then some intake process and then sort out who's prisoner he is. Part of what we saw as kind of the delay of getting him into the back of that Bearcat which is a bulletproof vehicle was probably figuring out, OK, who and whose custody is he? Is it you? Is it you? Is it the marshals? Is it the state Police? What are we using?

Are we using the federal wide the unlawful flight to avoid prosecution? Are we using the statewide? You know, they're sorting all that out. But he's definitely going to Police for facility and then likely either medical people will be brought there to check him out or he will be brought to a medical facility. But given his history, all that's going to be done on a very tight security basis.


HARLOW: I know this sounds like a silly question, but he was already serving, I believe up to a life sentence convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Does anything change for him now in prison.

MILLER: Conditions. Well, you know, it's not a silly question. It's actually quite interesting, because part of the psychological calculus here is a guy with nothing to lose. He's serving life in prison; He's wanted in Brazil for another case. You know, he, he is a guy with no prospects of ever getting out of prison. So thus his motive to escape. But because he's going to be carried as an escape risk as a tier one, you know, risk prisoner, his -- his, the facility he's going to be put in is not going to be a regular prison, it's going to be maximum security.

The conditions he's held in may be administrative segregation, or more stringent than regular prisons because of his history. So his life is going to be as bad as it was before, but a little worse.


MATTINGLY: Those dynamics and agree to ask you about it. But Scott, if we still have you? Are you surprised that it seems that this clearly has at least based on what we've seen, ended without incident, that there was no gunshots fired that we know of at this point, nobody was injured, no hostages were taken that it appears that he was taken somewhat peacefully and is now on his way to prison.

DUFFEY: Yes, I guess I would say I am surprised when he took that gun, that that was an outward sign that I am not giving up. And, and the fact that he wasn't fleeing the area, he had his chance. Once he broke the initial perimeter, once he got to an area that he was familiar with, once he figured out that, OK, family, friends or associate, it's not going to get me what I need. I'm going to still go because I'm still ahead of law enforcement. But he stayed. And he stayed, and he kept and got a gun.

HARLOW: John -- John Miller wanted to chime in here, John. MILLER: So if you look at them walking, you'll see one of the SWAT officers, just on the right side of your screen has his weapon, but he's carrying a separate weapon. That is apparently the 22 long rifle with the scope on it, which indicates it was recovered with him.

MATTINGLY: That's third guy that's behind holding. Exactly.

MILLER: Yes. So as I was looking at them walking, I was looking for who has more than one rifle and that rifle fits the description of the one that was stolen. So --

MATTINGLY: Yes, for viewers, it's the -- if you're looking at the screen again, this is from moments ago that Danelo Cavalcante is in the vehicle that you see on the right side of the screen on the left side of your screen, the man in the uniform on the far right, he just kind of walked off screen, he's holding a gun with a scope, which John points out is likely the -- the weapon that had been obtained by Danelo Cavalcante and really, I think ramped up a whole new level of urgency in this investigation.

MILLER: And I mean, it's indicative of the fact that they have him in cuffs here. And they have that weapon there that it was likely found on him, with him, near him during this capture, which, of course, is what has been one of the great concerns throughout this hunt in the last 24 hours.

HARLOW: John, stick with us. Danny Freeman, just so remarkable from the way he escaped from prison, crab walking up that wall to being on the run for two weeks, to getting a firearm which is now in the hands of the marshals. There are so many questions about what happens to him now, Danny, when he gets to jail again.

FREEMAN: Well, the first thing that we understand about where he may ultimately heading now is that he will not be going to any county run jail or prison. They'll be sending him to a state facility which is run statewide so that will be in a much more hopefully secure environment where they will keep him for the foreseeable future. Remember, he already was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

So they can probably just expedite that process now. But Poppy, I want to back up for a second and just give some context. This has been a strange summer when it comes to prison escapes in and around Pennsylvania. We saw two inmates escape a Philadelphia prison back earlier in the spring. Then we saw that manhunt for Michael Burham back in the northwest part of the state as well. And now we have this particular escape of Danelo Cavalcante.

This was the longest escape of these that have gotten a lot of attention over the course of the summer. Law enforcement sources told me that they really wanted to beat the record of about 12 days or 13 days or 10 days in one case for the other escapes. It's been a long journey for law enforcement. They've been out in these woods in Chester County. And a lot of times braving intense heat with all of their tactical gear. They've also had to contend with weather as well.


There's been a lot of rain over the past two weeks. This is a moment that I know Pennsylvania State Police, U.S. Marshals have been waiting for, for quite a long time. And as you keep noting, Poppy, also the community of Chester County has been on edge for 14 days. Now this nightmare, really, which is what it was, especially after getting a hand on a gun, this nightmare finally over for this community.

MATTINGLY: Yes, there's a sense that people can excel across the board, including to some degree yourself, Danny. But first, you've got to go to a press conference. So we're going to let you break free. Great reporting, as it has been every single day for the last 14 days. Hey, Scott, as we kind of close out, I want to ask a great question. Steal a great question Poppy had for John. In this press conference that Dan is going to be heading over to right now if you're in that room, what's the first question you have for law enforcement?

DUFFEY: I think it would be, did he say anything? That -- I would want to know if what was the moment that he's caught? Did his hands go up? Did he lay down? Or what -- what was that moment at the at the very moment of capture? That's what I would want to know. What did he say anything? That he's like, thank God, this is over. I want to know what was in his mind at the time that he gave up.

HARLOW: John Miller, when are we going to know where he's going? When he gets there literally?

MILLER: We are probably going to know where he's going exactly when that helicopter shot shows that vehicle going into a building.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Can I ask you about that? Because we've shown this again, what you're seeing on the left of your screen is moments ago, before he got into the vehicle on the right as law enforcement, SWAT forces were blocking him to the vehicle you see now where they all kind of surrounded him and took a photo. I think there was search dogs as well in there is that -- Why?

MILLER: That is probably for their Twitter feed. And you know, the why is interesting. We live in a world where they have been extraordinarily transparent and in touch with a very engaged, very engaged community, reverse 911 calls, the ChesCo alert system which pushes information's to people's phones, and they've been putting out scary messages. Not just there's an escaped prisoner, be on the lookout, but lock your doors, lock your car, secure your items, because he's in your area now.

And these have been geo coded. So the idea of taking that picture, this is him. We know it's him. He's in custody, we caught him --

MATTINGLY: You know, saying personal Twitter feed for all the individuals, you're saying it's an actual from a public relations and community perspective, a demonstration.

MILLER: So I think they need to put out to the community on the same channel --

HARLOW: So people can it, right.

MILLER: -- Messages of concern that you can exhale now and go back to your normal lives. And you know, send your kids back to school, and a bunch of things. So I think it had a legitimate public purpose rather than just for their photo collection.

HARLOW: Control room has this photo isolated. I want to show everyone. That what -- what can you tell us there, John? That is happening. This is the gun they believe that he stole, right.

MILLER: Right. So from here, it looks like -- it looks like a bolt action 22. It looks like it -- it -- it has a scope clearly on top of it. And that is the description of the gun that was leaning against the garage wall when he ran in found the homeowner in the garage and took that while he fled. He had shots fired at him. But it's also the weapon because of its configuration that has been of tremendous concern.

Basically, it's a hunting weapon. And while it's a 22, which is probably not armor piercing, but it does have a scope, which means it can shoot accurately from a long distance. And when you're searching for somebody in the woods, you can get a bead on you. That's a real concern. And that, of course changed the tenor of this in the last day.

HARLOW: Any final thought, as we have just a little bit of time left as we continue to watch this.

MILLER: What you saw here was fantastic teamwork. And when I say fantastic teamwork, it wasn't agencies jostling for who was in charge, or who was going to get you know, the most face time or TV time. This was a team that has done this before together and has done it again and they must feel very good about the outcome and that it was peaceful.

MATTINGLY: And we're going to hear from that team at 9:30 when the Pennsylvania State Police holds a press conference again and Danelo Cavalcante after 14 days has been taken into custody. We've been watching the process from being loaded into the vehicle you see on your right.