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CNN Tonight

Escaped Pennsylvania Killer Captured After Intense Manhunt. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 23:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And how crazy is that? This calls into question that single bullet theory because, obviously, if that bullet was behind President Kennedy, it would not have been the same bullet that would have hit Governor Connally.

It doesn't necessarily change the idea of whether or not there was one gunman, but it does suggest, if Mr. Landis's account is correct and believed, it does suggest some shoddiness by the Warren Commission, which for anybody who knows anything about the Warren Commission, will not come as much of a surprise.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks so much for joining us to talk about all of that.

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Abby.

PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "CNN Primetime." Laura Coates starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm so glad you're here with us tonight. I'm Laura Coates and welcome to "CNN Tonight."

Manhunt, capturing a killer. I have been fascinated by this story, so are you, and we're going to go in depth to the dramatic capture of Danelo Cavalcante from the moment that he broke out of prison almost two weeks ago until this very morning when police crept up on him and surrounded him in the woods.

I'm right here in Pennsylvania where it all went down at the location. It's a few hundred yards behind me where the escape murderer was captured just after 8:00 a.m.

Now, tonight, he is back behind bars for the first time, I might add, since August 31st in the Pennsylvania State Prison in a different county, this time Montgomery County. But now, he's got another charge, this time felony escape, that adds on to the life in prison sentence for the heinous murder of his former girlfriend in front of her two young children.

Now, you see him in the video shot by CNN affiliate, CBS News Philadelphia. Well, today, I'm going to talk to the chief county detective of Chester County and the chair of the prison board. Now, the story of how they got him is like something out of a Hollywood movie. They used heat-seeking technology to find him. And, oh, there's a four-year-old canine named Yoda who ultimately subdued what's called a defiant convict here. Now, police explained how it all went down.


GEORGE BIVENS, LIEUTENANT COLONEL, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred. That did not stop him from trying to escape. He began to crawl through thick underbrush, taking his rifle with him as he went.

One of the Customs and Border Control teams, BORTAC, had a dog with them. They released the dog. The dog subdued him, and team members from both of those teams immediately moved in. He continued to resist, but was forcibly taken into custody.


COATES: Here with me tonight, CNN's Brian Todd and Danny Freeman. They have covered this from the very beginning, around the clock, and Danny actually broke the news of this capture. I want to begin with you because this has been a fascinating manhunt.

I mean, first of all, it was the heinous act that was committed that led to his conviction and lifetime in prison sentence. Then he broke out. A catwalk -- I mean, a crabwalk up a wall. It took almost two weeks to get him. And here we are right now and he has finally been captured. Walk us through what it was like for this enormous law enforcement presence to get this guy.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Laura, it was incredibly challenging to say the least. Like you said, 14 days, two weeks, hundreds of officers sweeping different parts of Chester County where we are right now, and it all went down here this morning this morning.

But also, it really started almost 24 hours ago exactly. It was just after midnight, in fact, when officers got a report of a burglary in this area here in Chester County. They responded, they didn't find Cavalcante, but then they got some support from above. A fixed wing DEA airplane got a heat signal of what they thought might have been Cavalcante. Officers started to swarm, but then there was a huge storm last night, and the fixed-wing airplane had to go down.

But this was the decision that the Pennsylvania State Police say they made. They kept the tactical teams here. They formed a perimeter, really, in a similar scenario to right here in the dark of night, and they held that perimeter through that storm.

At 8:00 a.m., they surprised him, they were able to capture him, and then that dog, that K-9 Yoda, the Border Patrol K-9, was able to ultimately get into these woods right here, like you said, a few hundred yards, and apprehend Cavalcante, bringing this 14-day nightmare to an end. COATES: I mean, you can't overestimate or overstate, really. How dark it is here, Brian? I mean, I know we're behind lights, but I had to see it for myself when I said, how is this possible that this man has evaded capture all of this time? And by the way, this is somebody, of course, who had a warrant outstanding from Brazil as well. He's a Brazilian national. So, this is maybe a second time, second bite at the proverbial apple here.


But aside from where we're standing right now, you can't really see in front of your hand very far, and you've got dense forest, and you've got all these places that you could actually hide. Talk to me about what he did to try to even survive all this time.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, you mentioned earlier this was right out of a movie.


TODD: Compared to the movie "The Fugitive," this is -- that's almost tame by comparison to this, what he did to elude detection for two weeks. We got some good detail tonight from Robert Clark of the U.S. Marshals, who told CNN earlier tonight just some of the detail that Clark said they learned from Cavalcante in his post-capture interview. He said this to investigators. This is what he said. He said that he, the first two days after he escaped, he hunkered down, really didn't move for a couple of days.

COATES: Near the prison.

TODD: Right. Well, he couldn't have gotten too far from it. Maybe a couple of miles. But he basically hunkered down in one place for a couple of days. Then, when he did start to move around, he survived by drinking stream water, by eating a watermelon that he had found in a farm field, and by burying his fecal matter under leaves so that the law enforcement people couldn't detect him.

So, I mean, again, he did have experiences, as you just mentioned from the 2017 murder with -- where he was being hunted there in Brazil. He did have some experience hiding in the jungle. That's what we learned earlier from detect -- from Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens.

So, he came to this with some knowledge -- he came to this with some knowledge of this area and it was really extraordinary. I've never seen a manhunt with these many instances of a fugitive being so close so many times to law enforcement.

COATES: People saw him.

TODD: And to citizenry. And people saw him with eyeballs. One, like, day two, a trooper saw him with his own eyes, chased him, he got away. He got away from the guy in the garage who shot him several times and didn't hit him on close range.

COATES: Brian, he was close to you at one point. TODD: He was close to us. We figured out that two nights ago, when we were doing a live shot a little earlier than we are now at 8:45 at a barn, based on a sighting that a woman had seen him a couple of -- about less than an hour earlier, that he was right near where we were doing that live shot. He could have been just feet away. As you mentioned, you can't see --


TODD: -- 10 feet out here. So, he was close.

COATES: Danny, what was he going to do next?

FREEMAN: So, that was one of the interesting pieces of information we got from Robert Clark of the Marshals Office. He said that Cavalcante told investigators today when he was in their custody that his next plan was, within the next 24 hours, to carjack someone, take their vehicle, and drive up towards Canada.

And I got to say, you know, we've been hearing from investigators for a long time that his plan was to try and leave the country and to try and get wheels. The whole -- the two biggest terrifying factors that police had was that he'd get a weapon and that he'd get a car. He stole a dairy van, he ditched it, he got a gun, but he wasn't able to get a car this time because police were able to capture him here.

COATES: I mean, it's unbelievable. If I had not been here myself, I wouldn't have believed it, even in spite of all of your and both of your unbelievable reporting, keeping us all informed all this time, giving us so much information, and really in many ways quelling the anxiety of all the people in the community here, knowing that we were on the ground. So glad to have you both here today.

Everyone, there's so much more to think about what's happening. And by the way, when you think about and try to understand just how hard this search really was, forget the darkness, I'm talking about how many places there actually are to hide.

I actually want you to see what I saw this evening on a farm where police say they actually saw signs that Cavalcante had actually been there. It's right behind where I'm standing really, everyone. Becki Patterson showed me around. She's the executive director of the farming community that's behind us here.


COATES: Where do you think he would have been hiding? I'm seeing, obviously, homes. I know there are tenants, but I'm seeing barns, I'm seeing stables.


COATES: Is there some thought that he was in those areas or that he was hiding in these zones --

PATTERSON: We -- COATES: -- making his way?

PATTERSON: Absolutely. So, I -- there was a heat signature that was picked up over in this field early this morning. I want to say like 1:00 a.m. was what one of our tenants was telling me.

And then down in the lower part of the barn, there's actually an upturned trashcan, which our tenant didn't do. You know, he came down to feed -- there's cows that are down here that he feeds every morning. And he comes down, the trashcan is flipped over. So, it's like, ah, I didn't do that.

Um, nothing missing and certainly like places to hide all over this place, but especially down in this section and the access. If he were in this field where they picked up the heat signature, all you need to do is jump over that fence, and then suddenly you have all these tall structures to hide in.

COATES: I mean, you got open windows, you got open doors, you got a vehicle that could be used. And you said that it was peak harvest season, so you've got food.

PATTERSON: Yeah, we've got a lot here. We've got pretty much everything.

COATES: But he would have had access to food. I mean, apples.

PATTERSON: Sure. I mean, there are apples in this barn like -- so the whole --

COATES: He had a food source if he was over here.

PATTERSON: If he knew where to look.


If it -- if you start to line those pieces up, yes.

COATES: I mean, I'm just looking over here. I mean, just -- this is seeing --

PATTERSON: This is where the trashcan is.

COATES: This is where the trashcan is?


COATES: Show me where it is.

PATTERSON: Here. And you can see like you can't -- if he heard the helicopters, you could hide underneath all of this like, um --


PATTERSON: There's certainly places to tuck away back in here.

COATES: I mean, just thinking about --

PATTERSON: I'm actually getting freaked out.

COATES: -- the areas --

PATTERSON: He would walk through here, yeah.

COATES: It is freaky to think about.


COATES: I mean, the areas that he would have had, even -- even areas like this to hide behind or a board or inside here. Look how dark -- look how dark that is in there. This is old farm equipment?


COATES: So, if you're a helicopter trying to go over here, you're not seeing anything in here.

PATTERSON: Uh-hmm. And we have multiple structures like this.

COATES: There are tenants, but no one would have been in those structures.


COATES: So, he just had potentially anywhere he wanted to hide.

PATTERSON: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it was a free-for-all. That's why it was so scary here. This is the overturned trashcan. So, when our tenant farmer, Brian -- I'm sorry. Jeremy from (INAUDIBLE) has these cows. But this is the -- he's like, I didn't do that. So, it's just freaky to think about.

And that's the surreal part, is you see these pieces, these everyday things that you walk past that you would never think twice, and then you look at it again and you're like, did I do that? Did I, like, who was in here? What was that? And we work with six different farmers. So, people are in and out of everybody's --

COATES: Right.

PATTERSON: We share the space. So then you're like, did you do that? Did I do that? Did I leave that open? You would never think. And then you're thrown in this situation, you're like, did I put all of the pitchforks away? Is there anything that can be used for weapon? Is it --

COATES: I was going to say, look at you've got.

PATTERSON: Mm-hmm. They're just everyday tools that we use or the tenants use. But --

COATES: And no light. That strikes me again. I see light bulb but, I mean, if you don't want this on, this is going to be pitch black. And you can just see here -- I mean --


COATES: -- the way the hay naturally is, you would look at this normally and not think for one second there's something underneath here.



COATES: Now, I want to bring in David Sassa. He is the chief county detective for Chester County, Pennsylvania. David, this is pretty unbelievable. We have been captivated by what we've seen.

I mean, we learned that officers nearly stepped on Cavalcante three times. I mean, law enforcement, they brought so many resources to bear. And I just can't wrap my mind around how do you tackle the problem of not just the scope and the sheer breadth of the area, but how many places this man would have had to hide.

DAVID SASSA, CHIEF COUNTY DETECTIVE FOR CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: So, good evening, Laura. Thanks for having me back on. Yeah, this was a lot of challenges in this investigation and search. And when we spoke before, I told you I've been in law enforcement for 35 years, I've never been part of an investigation of this magnitude of manhunt.

At one point, we had over 500 federal, state, county, local law enforcement and support people. And, you know, working together, collaborating with a plan.

And most of this credit goes to lieutenant colonel of the Pennsylvania State Police. He directed us and we -- as the leadership, we put together a tactical plan and an investigative plan to find Mr. Cavalcante, which we did.

COATES: Uh-hmm. You know, what I find so fascinating about this is that, you know, many people who would have escaped a prison, first of all, would never have known how to do that, number one, let alone how to survive in the elements, in the extreme heat, in the cold at some points in time. You see, I have a jacket on. It's not warm here at night. It was hot last week. You had the heat wave, of course, occurring here as well.

He had certain survival tactics that he was able to use and implement in order to evade capture. I mean, he could -- he was eating watermelon, he was covering his own waste with leaves. I mean, what does it take to survive and to stay hidden out here? Are you thinking about what was going through his head and the ability to tactically plan?

SASSA: Yes. So, we thought about all that stuff. We had a lot of intelligence information from his arrest. I was there when the murder happened right after. I was one of the first detective to respond to that scene. We were involved in an investigation and prosecution the whole time. You know, he was resourceful. He did the things that he knew he could do. He went to shelter in the woods. And he had done that before information when he was in Brazil. And he did things that he was comfortable with. He moved at night, bedded down during the day. He told our investigators that at some points, he stayed still for a day, a day and a half. And yes, he told us that, you know, at some points, the tactical teams walked past him.


And you had mentioned there, you went through some of that brush. That area, I know very well. I used to work when I was a local police officer up in that area. And I spoke to a lot of the tactical teams and they told me like when they're in there, they're 5 feet apart and they can't see each other. I mean, that's how thick it is at some point. And with the terrain, the hills, and just everything in that area, it was tough, it was challenging.

But we were committed. You know, we had a team, and to watch this team get together and work collaboratively was one of the most amazing things I've ever been part of.

COATES: You know, first of all, I'm so glad that you mentioned because we really cannot lose sight of why this man was considered extremely dangerous. What he did to this mother of two young children, in front of her two young children, cannot be dismissed.

This was 38 times that she was stabbed in front of her children, I might add. That's why he was not only arrested, but convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. And that can't get lost when you talk about the danger of this person.

But it got exponentially more dangerous, of course, when we knew that he was now going to be armed. And apparently, he even planned to hijack a car in the next day or so after doing all that he has done right now. I mean, how much more dangerous could this have gotten if he had managed to escape this perimeter, this area, and made this a national issue?

SASSA: So, we were always concerned that he may get a weapon or hurt somebody. And that's the reason we had a tactical and investigative plan and using all the resources. And you had mentioned earlier, we had every type of resource and a lot of sophisticated equipment, surveillance equipment, to help find him. And that was part of our plan. And it worked. We got him in certain areas and we came close a couple of times, but he was able to elude us.

And you're right, that murder was horrific. What he did showed no emotion. I watched that trial. I was in that trial. I watched it. He showed no emotion, didn't apologize. The jury came back in 15 minutes after hearing that case, in 15 minutes, and convicted him of first- degree murder. And that's how horrific this crime was.

And to see a week later him escape the way he did was shocking, shocking to me. And, you know, we gathered our support, called all our agencies, and we put a plan together and didn't stop working 24 hours a day.

And I have to tell you, the level of dedication of the men and women of every agency, particularly the tactical operators, it's hard to describe here in words what they did. You know, 12-hour shifts in the woods with all their tactical gear. Didn't want to -- never once did they complain ever about anything. They had a mission, they were focused, and they wanted to capture him safely and make sure that none of the citizens were injured or put in jeopardy.

And the county, it was unnerving for a lot of people, you know, not only in the concentration areas --

COATES: Of course.

SASSA: -- but through the whole county. My phone rang off the whole time. You know, where is he? Is he closed? When are you guys going to get him? My family, is it safe to go here? And the fear of the unknown was awful hard for a lot of people.

But the men and women that were part of this investigation, particularly the leadership of all the agencies, the state police, the federal agencies, the county agencies, we stayed on the same page with the same mission, and we ultimately were able to take him to custody without firing one shot and injuring anybody.

COATES: David, it cannot be underscored enough, what you just said. I'll talk to a woman who had her three-year-old daughter on the same property in the same area where this man was likely and was eventually captured 100 yards away. I mean, schools were closed in this area. People were afraid for their lives. Why? Because the real unknown was what would a man who had nothing to lose do to stay not captured?

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We've got, listen, a lot more to come this very hour, everyone, because I'm still asking the question of what did it take to bring this manhunt to an end.

And you keep hearing me mention this thing called Yoda, right? I'm not talking about "Star Wars." I'm talking about a police dog, who was trained to do such dangerous work, actually subdued this escapee.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): The radio room, Chester County government and the various other agencies working on the prisoner escape are proud to announce the subject is in custody. Repeating -- the subject is in custody."



[23:24:00] COATES: This is "CNN Tonight." Manhunt capturing a killer. I'm Laura Coates in Pennsylvania where convicted murderer, Danelo Cavalcante, is now behind bars after a two-week manhunt. Here with me are the consummate experts, CNN law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, and Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia Police commissioner and chief of police in Washington, D.C. as well.

Gentlemen, you know, I have been looking at this from a prosecutorial angle of what you do once the person is captured. You guys know what it's like to be on a manhunt, to try to find somebody, to find that elusive needle in the hands in the haystack. They did it a couple times. Today, they got him.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yeah, you know, an incredible day for law enforcement, a great moment of validation for the team that they had put together. There's a lot of things that really, I'm sure, are going through your mind as well today, chief.

But the intensity of having to work an issue like this, from the second it starts, you know you're on the brink of a major crisis. If you don't find this person, the chances are whatever they do, whatever sort of violence or mayhem they wreak on the community or individuals in it -


COATES: It's on you.

MCCABE: -- you feel responsible.


MCCABE: That's on you. So, you know, law enforcement is working with a clock ticking over their head knowing that we have got to stop this person before they do something terrible. Absolutely the case here with a guy who we already know has killed two other people, allegedly somebody in Brazil and been convicted for the murder here.

So, I just thought they did a remarkable job. They had a few really unlucky breaks. You know, he was able to get out of the areas where they thought he was hiding.


MCCABE: They were right. He was hiding there until he was able to slip those perimeters. That happens. It's a part of this work. It's unavoidable. It's unfortunate. But today, they got the break they were looking for.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And I think, you know, you raised a very good point there. I mean, first of all, it's very difficult to try to find someone who doesn't want to be found.


RAMSEY: Okay? And you add on top of that thick woods and overgrowth and huge area that they had to search. I mean, at one point, it was eight square miles. I mean, that's awful difficult to do any kind of thorough search of an individual -- for an individual.

And so, I think what they did was absolutely remarkable to actually just stay with it and continue to pour in the resources until they were able to finally catch a break.

And that was when that burglar alarm went off, put them in a direction. The thermal imaging from the DEA plane that actually picked up a -- what looked like a person crawling, and they figured, you know, we might have this guy, and they were able to establish a new perimeter. We had a very violent thunderstorm here last night. So, that plane had to land. So, they lost that. But fortunately, they were able to pick it up in the morning, and they were able to capture him.

I think people just don't appreciate how difficult it is, to conduct a search like this, the logistics necessary to be able to have -- you know, it's one thing to have 500 people.

COATES: Right.

RAMSEY: It's another thing to coordinate 500 people.

COATES: Well, not just 500 people, Chief Ramsey. You're talking about different entities.

RAMSEY: Different agencies. That is right.

COATES: And by the way, the agencies themselves are, you know, autonomous in their own rights.

RAMSEY: Right.

COATES: You're smiling because you know they're not like, oh, how can I help and be helped right now? But this was a coordinated effort in that.


COATES: Imagine those resources. Now, you both have talked about the incredible job of law enforcement. I got to tell you, today, like the -- was it Wednesday night quarterbacking? Makes sense to actually appreciate and applaud.

But they were getting criticized day after day for how long it was taking because people don't understand what you're talking about on those issues. Did it take -- I mean, the coordination and the resources, was this overkill just enough? What?

MCCABE: Definitely not overkill. And in terms of the time that it took, it's really a reasonable amount of time, two weeks for a manhunt. For somebody like this, who is experienced at hiding in the woods, hiding in these woods, pitch black, you know, it's not unreasonable that it would take two weeks.

If they made a mistake anywhere, it was a very minor one, and it was in communication with the public. Some of their statements early on were very confident, maybe overly confident. We have him pinned down in a perimeter, we're confident he's in there, we're going to be able to find him, things like that. Statements with that level of confidence tend to elevate people's expectations, maybe unrealistically.

And I think that's a little bit of what may have been offset here. But the work they did and the time they did it, great job.

COATES: And by the way, no one hurt in the process. I mean, he himself was bit by a police dog. He was injured. Yoda did that. But what they avoided -- this man was found with a rifle. He was found with that gun near his body, everyone.

RAMSEY: Well, that was one of the biggest concerns throughout this whole process here. You know, I thought he probably had a knife. He broke into one house, he was stealing food. I mean, what kitchen doesn't have a knife, right? And so, it would be easy to have a knife. That's one thing.

But when he finally got a firearm, that changed everything, because now, that really not only heightens the awareness of the officers, it puts them in more danger, it puts the community in more danger, because now you know this individual has a firearm and, as you said earlier, he has absolutely nothing to lose.

I mean, here's a guy that has committed two murders. He is already sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. I mean, he may as well go out in a blaze. I mean, there's nothing that would stop that sort of thing from happening.

And so, that's on your mind. I can't say enough about the courage of those officers, the men and women out there still searching even though it was said earlier in some -- you couldn't see five feet away from you in many instances, you know.


RAMSEY: And so, you know, it really took a lot of courage. As far as the time, people kind of believe that, you know, it's like TV, you know, where everything gets solved in an hour with commercial breaks in between. I mean, that's not reality, okay?


These things take time. And if he had been able to get transportation and help, it would have taken a lot longer, because he would have been out of here. Now, you're talking about a national search for fugitives. That adds a whole different dimension to it.

COATES: Look, the experts are here. We're learning and picking their brains, everyone. Andrew McCabe and Charles Ramsey. Stick around, everyone. And again, I can't forget, and I don't want anyone to forget, the victim in all this. Her name is Deborah Brandao. She was a mother. And Cavalcante was convicted of stabbing her to death in front of her two young children. Stay with us.


COATES: The 14-day manhunt for an armed, escaped murder in Pennsylvania, it is finally over. I mean, schools were closed. Residents in the area were fearing for their lives. They were afraid to even leave their homes in this remote area where you could normally leave your doors maybe unlocked and not have all your lights on.

Well, some people have been describing the hours leading up to the Cavalcante capture. I spoke to a woman, a young mother, her name is Brittany Donovan, who lives on the farm where police say they actually saw signs that Cavalcante had actually been there.


BRITTANY DONOVAN, TENANT ON FARM NEAR CAPTURE: We watched just like live streams all night until they weren't on anymore. Listening to the scanner just to figure out what's going on. And, I mean, I tried to get a little sleep with her. But Brian, my husband, he was just like up probably like every 30 minutes just looking outside.

I mean, last night was a little better. There was literally FBI on our barn roof. So, it was a little -- we felt a little safer, just knowing that they were out there, and we didn't have to like be on our toes. But that was the only night. The night before that, it was like we didn't go to bed till -- try to go to bed till probably like 4:00 just because there was so much going on. There was giant armored truck driving down our farm road, drones, like we had no idea what was going on.

COATES: What was it like to figure out that they were here, they were looking at this area because (INAUDIBLE) was here? FBI agents on your roof.

DONOVAN: It was surreal. Yeah, that was a weird one when they came knocking on the door asking for a ladder so they could get on our roof to be like on lookout. It was very weird. And then they left my husband a patch so he feels -- he feels a part of it. Yeah.

COATES: He's a part of it.


COATES: There you go. I mean, where we are now, though, I mean it's so close to where he was captured.

DONOVAN: Yeah, and that is also very weird because we felt like we were like, are we being watched? And now, those feelings are like totally validated because he was right there.

COATES: You felt like you're being watched?

DONOVAN: Yeah. I mean, just like -- we're like, is he -- is he in the woods behind us? Like they were searching the woods. They're searching the creek. So, we're like, is he -- could he be like literally right here? And it was just like so eerie to walk around, like are they -- like are they in the woods watching? Is he in the woods? You know? And then now, we're like he was, he was right up there.


COATES: With me now, Pennsylvania State Senator Katie Muth. This is her district. State senator, thank you for being here with us. I mean, this is incredible, to think that this happened here. I mean, this -- what we're hearing, relative silence, was not what was happening for really weeks now on end. She used to describe that there were FBI agents who were on the roof, just trying to gain that advantage to see what was going on. What has your community been feeling at this time?

STATE SEN. KATIE MUTH (D-PA): Sure, I think since Saturday, knowing that he had moved into this area, there was a tension that had built, an eerie tension and sort of just on edge. And so, Sunday morning, when I woke up, we learned about a van being stolen and all those things that had happened, and this was no longer an hour away from Senate District 44 but it actually -- there was an incident on a road that connects to my neighborhood.

And so, you know, looking at footage of a security camera, like our ring camera, and seeing for hours the law enforcement circling our neighborhood, just kind of was like surreal. And so -- then you're like in senator mode then, like what does everybody need? What are the things, right? Like school, after school sports, practice outside.

COATES: What happened with all that?

MUTH: I mean, it had to be eventually canceled at the very last minute. So, you think about, of course, all this is logistically challenging, but then the impact on families, daycare, bus drivers lost pay, like things that you don't think about immediately when you're looking for someone who's, you know, very dangerous.

And so, I really do appreciate the coordination of all the levels of government and resources that were sent to this area because, you know, tonight, people get to sleep a little bit easier, which is a relief.

COATES: Absolutely. But, you know, there's that. But then, this has happened before at that particular facility. And now, many members of the community will probably want something done to ensure it does not happen again. Are you concerned that precautions have or have not been taken sufficient to make sure that what has happened here these last two weeks can't happen again?

MUTH: Sure. I mean, absolutely. We cannot allow those who are dangerous to be out in our community. And so, I have not -- me, as a senator, visited the prison in Chester County, but I have gone to four of the different state correctional institutions. So, I'm familiar with those security processes, visiting with lifers and high risk. I've been to SCI Phoenix twice for legislative visits. And so, the security there is very tight.


And so, even just then watching the video of how this person escaped, the infrastructure at a state prison, even an older one, doesn't exist for that to happen just based on wall height and a lot of barbed wire and just, you know, doors that don't open without badges. So, it was kind of shocking.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MUTH: And it's an area that needs immediate improvement and staffing and who's watching the camera. All those things need to be fixed, which they can be. And I hope that that's done very quickly.

COATES: We're going to talk a lot more about this next as well and really talk about that. You know, this sparked the manhunt. Now, it will spark the changes needed and obviously hope sparks some rest for your community. Thank you for joining us today. I appreciate it.

Everyone, what is keeping others from escaping prison the same way Cavalcante did? The chair of the Chester County Prison Board joins us after this.


COATES: Escape murderer Danelo Cavalcante is now being held in a maximum-security Pennsylvania State prison. But what changes have been made at the prison that he initially escaped from? And how do we know that this won't happen again?


Joining me now is Josh Maxwell, chair of the Chester County Prison Board. He's also the Chester County commissioner. So glad that you're here today, Josh. First of all, you know, you had a chance to actually walk the escape route. And I'm using that term loosely because the man crab walked up a wall, made it onto a roof, and then we don't know what else really happened there. Walk me through what happens next in terms of that escape route. It's a roof?

JOSH MAXWELL, CHAIRMAN, CHESTER COUNTY PRISON BOARD: Yes. So, when he crabwalks up that wall, we made the decision to release that video because we wanted to be transparent. We thought it was such an unusual escape. We didn't want people to think he just walked out the front door.

So, after he crab walks up, he encounters some razor wire and some security measures. They take several minutes to work through. He then -- I can't give out too many details about the additional security measures he faced.

COATES: But why is that? Why can't you?

MAXWELL: Well, one, I'm just not authorized to do so.


MAXWELL: Second, we're going to make -- there's still 600 folks in the prison, and we're making investments right now to ensure that there isn't any way someone could follow this route ever again. But he had to go through another layer of razor wire additionally to eventually leave the prison and get off of the facility in addition to climbing a fence.

This person had high capabilities that maybe a municipal prison isn't always set up for. But now, we know we have to be set up for those things. So, we're going to start making those investments right away.

COATES: Now, you hear razor wire. You think how can anyone navigate that. And of course, it's difficult to see the images of him. We see him obviously bloodied when he's actually captured and bitten by a dog, the canine Yoda. But people wondered about what that was like to get through the razor wire. Had there been enough on the roof to stop him?

And then also, how did he get around the area after that? I know you don't want to divulge because who wants a blueprint for who is actually in that prison still. But talk to me about where he's going next and where he will be. Is that more secure than where he's left?

MAXWELL: Yes. So, he was convicted of murder. So, he's on his way to a state facility, anyway.

COATES: He always was.

MAXWELL: He always was after his conviction. A municipal prison like ours will hold inmates for around two years. So, he was here in our prison going through his trial, awaiting his conviction, which took 15 minutes and the D.A. prosecuted it herself. And he was -- the state had 30 days to transfer him up to a state facility, and he was about a week into that 30 days.

COATES: So, what do you tell people now in the area who are learning about -- this wasn't the first time. Even the initial means of the catwalk or the escape, I'm calling it catwalk, I mean the crab walk, not the initial escape, not the first time it happened.

What do you tell people in the community who are saying to themselves, what we've been through the last two weeks, not to mention the family of the victim, including her two children, who must have been terrorized by all of this? What do you say to the community who is looking and saying, is there enough done now or I got to wait to make sure?

MAXWELL: We have to regain their trust. This is a section of the world where there is not a lot of crime. Folks here come here for a quiet life and don't expect things like this to happen. They don't mentally or mentally prepare for that.

So, we're going to make more than a million dollars investments into this prison security. We have the funds to do that. The prison board will have an opportunity to make those investments, putting fencing over all eight yards at the prison so that you -- there's no way to get out in any way, shape or form. More cameras, more lighting. This prison has been around for decades, has not had those security investments, and folks maybe didn't feel the need for it to have that. We're going to make those investments now. And we're going to include the community with town halls next week, present those to the community, get their feedback, start regaining their trust week after week, month after month, and hopefully, 10 years from now, we can say confidently there's been no more escapes and these security measures worked.

COATES: Well, I tell you, you probably have a very invested population right now, making sure that's the case. So, thank you for being here today. Josh Maxwell, everyone.

Look, there has been a huge day right here in Chester County, Pennsylvania. A murderer who was on the loose for two weeks is now back behind bars. We'll be right back.



COATES: Escape murderer Danelo Cavalcante is back behind bars tonight, everyone. Police say that he was defiant until the end. Back with me, Andrew McCabe and Charles Ramsey. Gentlemen, it's the way that it went down. There was no guarantee this would have been a peaceful surrender or that no one would have been either attacked, assaulted or hurt in this. This is a dog also that brought this down. Talk to me a little bit about what the pressure was like on officers to get this man captured alive.

MCCABE: That intensity, that pressure we've been talking about all night peaks this morning when they know they have their guy in their sights. They know they have him surrounded. They can see that he's lying down. He begins to start to crawl away. In that moment, what you have is a decision not to just engage him with firearms, which they likely could have. They know that he's armed. He's got the weapon right there near his body within reach. They send in the dog instead in a final effort to resolve this, uh, as bloodlessly and peacefully as possible. And brilliant move, incredible discipline to do that, and we have the result that we got today where no shots are fired.

COATES: You agree?

RAMSEY: Yoda deserves a medal. I mean, uh --

COATES: Medal, he does. Sorry, it was Yoda. My bad. Go ahead.


RAMSEY: I think the discipline that you know the police exercise throughout this entire process is really remarkable. I mean, this is a very dangerous person. And there are a lot of people, myself included, that really -- I'm surprised that it ended the way it ended.

COATES: Really? What about it? That it was not --

RAMSEY: That it was really bloodless. That it was peaceful. I mean, they were able to take him into custody without having to resort to lethal force. When he took that firearm, you know, I really said this is going to change the whole outcome of this entire event. So, I'm pleased that it turned out this way.

COATES: But what goes behind that decision to send in the dog? I mean, there were officers on the scene. Why that?

RAMSEY: One, you don't want to put your officers at risk if you don't have to. So, you send the dog in. Because, again, he's still in tall grass. You know he's armed. You're close. So, you send the dog in. And these dogs are specially trained.

Believe me, once that dog is on them, the last thing he's thinking about is grabbing that rifle. OK? He's trying to get that dog off him. And the minute the dog makes contact, then the officers come in, and then they get him under control. So, that's why they did it that way.

MCCABE: Without the dog, the officers have to close in and put hands on or engage that subject with firearm.


And the dog gives them their last chance to neutralize him, to get him away from his weapon, to distract him without actually engaging in a firefight.


MCCABE: Really, really wise.

RAMSEY: They had lost the element of surprise by that time. I mean, he knew that someone was running.

MCCABE: He was running away.

RAMSEY: He was already starting to -- trying to get away. And so, for the officers then to do that, he probably would have engaged them. Had that dog not attacked him so quickly, it probably would have been a different outcome.

COATES: But it wasn't because he's now behind bars, everyone. McCabe, Ramsey, thank you so much for being here. So important. And thank you all for watching this incredibly important and impactful moment in Pennsylvania. Our coverage continues.