WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — One of the country’s top botanical gardens has been closed indefinitely after reports that an escaped murderer on the run in southeast Pennsylvania may have once again been spotted on the property.
When Longwood Gardens closed Thursday night, people who remained on the property were told to shelter in place as law officers searched part of the site for fugitive Danelo Souza Cavalcante. The 34-year-old Brazilian man escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof.
There was a possible sighting of Cavalcante on Thursday night that was being investigated, state police said, but further details about the sighting and who reported it were not disclosed. It came hours after another person reported seeing Cavalcante in another area of the vast botanical garden. On Monday night, a surveillance camera on a trail had captured him walking through its grounds.
Cavalcante has so far eluded hundreds of law officers, including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, cops on horseback and from aircraft. As the search enters its second week, nervous residents remain alert for any sign of the fugitive. Including Thursday night, there have now been nine sightings of him since his escape. Cavalcante has managed to get ahold of clothing and other supplies, authorities have said.
There’s now a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Cavalcante received a life sentence last month for killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children in 2021. He escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison. Prosecutors say he killed her to prevent her from telling police that he’s wanted in a 2017 killing back in Brazil.
Authorities believe he was trying to return to Brazil after the ex-girlfriend’s murder. He was captured in Virginia.
The escape and search have attracted international attention and became big news in Brazil. The main newspaper in Rio de Janeiro ran a lengthy story Wednesday with the headline “Dangerous hide-and-seek.”