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A convicted murderer escaped from a Pa. jail and is still eluding authorities

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A two-week manhunt for Pennsylvania prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante continues this morning. So far, he's evaded hundreds of police and other law enforcement officials searching for him in suburbs and wooded areas. Police say Cavalcante, who was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend in 2021, is now considered, quote, "armed and extremely dangerous," unquote, after he stole a rifle on Monday. For more, we're now joined by CNN reporter Danny Freeman, who's been covering this story. Good morning, Danny.

DANNY FREEMAN: Good morning, Leila. How are you doing?

FADEL: I'm doing well. So what's the latest on the manhunt right now?

FREEMAN: Well, Leila, I'm sitting right now at the intersection of state Route 100 and state Route 23. We're on the northeasternmost edge of this now-massive perimeter that law enforcement has set up on day 14 of this manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante. It was a relatively quiet night in terms of this ongoing search. Like you mentioned, over the course of the day yesterday, there were as many as 500 law enforcement officers combing the area after that big revelation that we learned that Cavalcante has now obtained a weapon and is considered not only extremely dangerous, but also armed. At this point, police are basically walking through this large area of woods with horseback, armored vehicles, helicopters, all trying to bring this man in.

FADEL: You mentioned this rifle that he now has. I mean, how much of a danger does he now present to the public?

FREEMAN: Listen, Leila, the Pennsylvania State Police, they have always maintained that Cavalcante has been extremely dangerous. Remember, he was convicted of murder just last month here in Pennsylvania, a murder that he committed back in 2021. It was a fairly brutal murder. He stabbed his ex-girlfriend 38 times in front of her two children. But he's also wanted for murder in Brazil for a murder that happened back in 2017. So police have always considered him a threat to the community that he has been in when he's - since he's been on the run. But this new development, like you said, of him obtaining a rifle, clearly has changed the tone, not just for the police's warning to the community, but also for the troopers themselves and the law enforcement agents themselves who are, again, combing through dense, intense brush and heavily wooded areas. You know, they now have to worry about this man holding a rifle out there in the wilderness.

FADEL: You mentioned 500 law enforcement officers combing through the area. And this one man has eluded police, law enforcement for two weeks. How has he done this?

FREEMAN: You know, that's the million-dollar question. And we keep asking that of Pennsylvania State Police. And, you know, they say a few things. First, this is now the second true perimeter that we have seen set up to try and cage Cavalcante in during this manhunt. And the Pennsylvania State Police lieutenant colonel who's been leading this charge, George Bivens, he says, listen, no perimeter is ever going to be 100% foolproof. So that's the first part.

But the second part is that, as I started to describe earlier, the terrain here in Chester County is really challenging. There are a number of, as I said, densely wooded areas. There are creeks. There are cornfields in many cases. And there are a lot of places, simply, the police say, where Cavalcante can hide. And that makes this search incredibly difficult. By the way, the intense heat has been a challenge for police, and also rainstorms that have come through over the past two weeks, including just this morning, add to the challenge as well.

FADEL: That's CNN reporter Danny Freeman. Thank you so much for your reporting.

FREEMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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