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Pa. authorities have caught a convicted murderer who escaped from jail 2 weeks ago


The hunt for escaped convict Danelo Cavalcante is over. He was caught this morning 14 days after he escaped from a Pennsylvania state prison. Footage of the arrest shows him being ushered into a police vehicle in Chester County, Pa. Joining us now is Kenny Cooper from member station WHYY. Kenny, what did we learn about Cavalcante's arrest?

KENNY COOPER, BYLINE: Good morning. We learned that, you know, shortly after midnight last night, authorities were really able to kind of pick up the trail on Cavalcante. A burglar alarm went off at a residence within the perimeter in northern Chester County. And then around 1 a.m., an aircraft was actually able to pick up a heat signal as it was flying above. Now, you know, unfortunately, there was a weather system storm that was kind of passing through the area that, you know, forced the aircraft to depart. But tactical teams from Pennsylvania State Police and the Customs and Border Patrol were able to secure the area on the ground. Now, they continued to converge on the area and secure it until about 8 a.m. this morning, where Pennsylvania State Police trooper Colonel - Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens said that they were able to make a move.


GEORGE BIVENS: And shortly after 8 a.m., tactical teams converged on the area where the heat source was. 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.

MARTÍNEZ: Kenny, for about 14 days, he was able to evade police, and wooded terrain and the extreme heat were obstacles in the search. What did we learn about methods that were finally used to be able to capture him?

COOPER: Gotcha. So it's kind of been a lot of the main methods that they've used this entire time, which is a combination of the state-of-the-art technology that they mentioned, these heat-seeking cameras, and also a bit of, you know, older-school methods, you know, police dogs. And they've just kind of used a combination of resident tips where, you know, hey, we might have seen him on a Ring camera or we may have seen him on this to kind of make sure that they're on his trail for the entirety of these past 14 weeks. Now, he did escape the perimeter a couple of times, but they've kind of been able to regain the trail every time he kind of left their grasp.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, 14 days, though - I mean, he had to have eaten something - right? - to stay strong enough to be able to evade police. How was he able to survive this long on the run?

COOPER: So authorities have not been able to share a lot of those details, part of which is because they haven't been able to interview him yet. They do need an interpreter. He's actually brought down to their Avondale station as they wait for that interpreter. But what they know now is that, you know, a lot of which he sustained himself was just through these burglaries. That's how he was able to pick up some of these items. That's also how he was able to retrieve a rifle. So they assume that that's part of the reason why he was able to, you know, keep himself moving after 14 days.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Now, this has got to be a huge relief for the people that live in the area. I mean, what have the last two weeks been like for the people in Chester County, Pa.?

COOPER: So for a lot of the people in Chester County, they've kind of had their life at a standstill. You know, as this search perimeter has shifted, schools in these new search perimeters have closed down. Initially, as the suspect was in the historic botanical garden in Chester County, Longwood Gardens, it forced the entire 1,000-acre property to shut down for days. So, you know, for - life for those people in, you know, rural suburban Chester County, it's kind of been at a standstill. But they can now kind of breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that their life can get back to normal.

MARTÍNEZ: Yep. Kenny Cooper from member station WHYY. Kenny, thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.