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14th Sep 2023

Yoda the police dog unveiled as hero who took down killer who escaped from jail

Steve Hopkins

The force was strong with this one

A police dog with a rather memorable name is being lauded for its role in capturing an escaped murderer who went viral for crab-walking his way up a wall in a dramatic prison break.

Danelo Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison on 31 August – days after he was sentenced to life for stabbing his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao to death in Pennsylvania in 2021 in front of her two young kids. He was also wanted for killing a man in Brazil in 2017 over a supposed vehicle debt.

Video of the 34-year-old’s escape shows him walking up to a narrow space within the prison, then using his arm and legs to climb sideways to freedom.

Cavalcante was captured Wednesday after almost two weeks on the run, and later told how he hid his faecal matter under leaves so that search teams couldn’t track him. Tactical teams closed in on him Wednesday morning as the inmate began crawling through heavy underbrush to get away.

But that wasn’t to be, thanks to a four-year-old Belgian Malinois called Yoda.

Pictures taken after Cavalcante’s arrest show him with a bloodied face.

Yoda is a part of the BORTAC K9 unit with the US Border and Customs Patrol. Border patrol agents from Buffalo, Detroit, Blaine, Washington, Swanton, Vermont and El Paso, Texas helped in the search with other federal, state and local law enforcement to catch Calavante with Pennsylvania State Police leading the manhunt.

According to Luitenant Col Bivens, a police aircraft picked up a heat signal at around 1am Wednesday, but due to poor weather conditions, searchers had to return later in the day.

Yoda then sniffed out Cavalcante and chasing him down as he tried to crawl away from police.

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection said: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been supporting our federal, state, and local partners during this intense 14-day search.

“On Wednesday morning, September 13, members of the United States Border Patrol, including elite BORTAC unit agents, together with our partners at the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and other federal, state and local law enforcement, apprehended escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante without incident.” Pictures have since been released, which show the moment Yoda and the team finally apprehended Cavalcante, who was bitten during the operation.

At the time he was captured, Cavalcante was armed with a rifle at the time of his capture.

Speaking during a news conference, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said: “Today is a great day in Chester County. Our nightmare is finally over.

“We have the best people in the business and we knew it was just a matter of time.”

She told reporters that it was a relief to finally put the case to bed and that it would come as some solace to the family of Brandao, who Cavalcante had been convicted of murdering. .

Court documents show Cavalcante was charged with escaping prison and is set to stand before court on 27 September.

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