Escaped Pennsylvania murderer stole van, changed appearance

(Reuters) -A convicted murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison over a week ago eluded a police perimeter and stole a van to run from law enforcement, authorities said on Sunday.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, escaped on Aug. 31 from Chester County Prison in the vicinity of Philadelphia where he was awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for killing his ex-girlfriend.

Police said that Cavalcante on Saturday stole a white Ford van just outside the area law enforcement was monitoring around the prison and used it to travel approximately 25 miles (40 km) to the township of East Pikeland.

The van’s keys had been left inside the vehicle, police said.

The fugitive then attempted to contact a former work associate at his residence and was captured on video by the doorbell camera.

Screenshots of the video circulated by police earlier on Sunday show Cavalcante changed his appearance to elude capture including shaving his beard and mustache.

“You will note that Cavalcante is now clean shaven and wearing a bright green hooded sweatshirt,” Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police told reporters on Sunday.

Bivens said the fugitive attempted to contact a second work associate on Saturday night in Phoenixville, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, but once again the individual was not home. A neighbor noticed Cavalcante and notified authorities.

Police said it recovered the stolen van in a field on Sunday morning, but Cavalcante was nowhere to be found.

“No perimeter is 100% secure ever,” Bevins said in response to questions from the media about how the fugitive could elude such a large law enforcement effort, with hundreds of officers involved in the search. “I am confident we will capture him, and we will bring him back into the criminal justice system.”

Cavalcante, a Brazilian national, is also a suspect in a 2017 murder in Brazil, the U.S. Marshals have said. Police on Sunday confirmed that his sister was detained by U.S. immigration authorities and faces deportation.

There have been multiple sightings of Cavalcante since his jail break. Last week, school districts in the area canceled classes for a day after one such sighting, officials said.

Police have offered up to $20,000 for tips leading to his capture.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)