For two weeks, escaped convict Danelo Cavalcante hid out in the Pennsylvania woods before police finally caught him without incident Wednesday morning. Now the questions begin as to how he successfully eluded hundreds of cops for that long, and what it took to find him. ABC crime and terrorism analyst Brad Garrett followed the story from the day Cavalcante crab-walked up two walls at the Chester County jail on August 31st.
“There’s two key elements in catching fugitives,” Garrett told 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel. “One is the desperateness that eventually sets in with escapees. [Cavalcante was] no different, other than he was very adept, apparently, in moving around in remote areas, wooded areas, et cetera, but he started doing overt things that tend to get you caught, like breaking into a garage… Fortunately, law enforcement happened to be real close, and so the second thing… is real-time as to where a person is, and then they use thermal imaging from a plane.”
The thermal imaging led police to a spot in the woods where a human body might be hiding, and, as Garrett mentioned, it turned out to be Cavalcante. “Tactical teams were able to, I think, basically sneak up on him, probably surround him in this area, and then at some point… they send the dog on him. And so, by doing that, obviously he’s not going to have time to mess with a rifle, while he’s getting his leg chewed on, or his head chewed on, and they take him into custody.”
Garrett stressed that it’s unfair to criticize police for being unable to find Cavalcante quickly after his escape, given his ability to hide in tough terrain in Brazil, in addition to several variables. “They could have well walked by him if they didn’t have dogs with them, because he was really good at secreting himself… Those are tough searches. I’ve done those searches, through woods, undergrowth, and they didn’t know early on- they knew later- that he had a rifle… that slows you down… and then you add 100-degree temperature the first week, with all that equipment on. That is not a pleasant thing to do.”
Garrett also gave law enforcement a pass for posing for pictures with Cavalcante front-and-center after his capture. “On a smaller scale these people, all these officers, risked their lives, and I think they wanted to really show the public, look we’re here, we caught the guy, we’re the ones who caught him. So, I get all of that, and I also get why people are uncomfortable with that, but I think their thoughts probably are sincere as to why they did it.”
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