Watchtower guard is fired as search for fugitive killer in Pennsylvania focuses on botanical garden

A prison tower guard has been fired after letting a murderer slip out on his watch in a brazen daytime escape last week, county officials said Friday, as the nine-day-old search pressed on amid suburbs, farms and the lush gardens of a vast botanical garden.

The guard, an 18-year-veteran of the Chester County Prison, was fired Thursday, county spokesperson Michelle Bjork said. He was on duty in the watchtower on Aug. 31 when Danelo Souza Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up it, climbed over razor wire and jumped from a roof.

Cavalcante’s escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a headcount. The guard, who had been on administrative leave after the escape, also had his personal cell phone on him at the time, a violation of the facility’s protocol, the spokesperson said.

Bjork said she did not know the specific reason for the firing.

Cavalcante, a 34-year-old from Brazil, has since eluded hundreds of law enforcement personnel, including tracking dogs, tactical teams in full combat gear, and police on horseback and in helicopters southwest of Philadelphia.

He was sentenced to life in prison 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.

  • September 8, 2023
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