Killer, terrorist on the run in US and Britain

NEW YORK/LONDON: The manhunt continued for a sixth day Wednesday for a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Pennsylvania, with local schools closed and residents asked to lock their doors. Almost a week after 34-year Brazilian national Danelo Cavalcante slipped away from the Chester County Prison, hundreds of law enforcement officers with helicopters, drones and search dogs were still out in full force looking for the fugitive. “Residents… are asked to lock their doors, check their cars and belongings, and to stay aware of their surroundings,” the Chester County District Attorney’s office said in a statement on Facebook.

The fugitive was last spotted on Tuesday. “Last evening, we had another sighting of Cavalcante by a resident in the area,” Pennsylvania State Police official George Bevins told reporters. “The team searched the area for hours but were unable to locate him.” Prison officials on Wednesday released a video showing how Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing his girlfriend to death, was able to make his escape. In the clip, the convict, wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, is seen crab-walking up two parallel walls and then climbing to the roof.

Danelo Souza Cavalcante

Bevins warned residents that Cavalcante was likely looking to burglarize their homes looking for food, clothes and other supplies. “Cavalcante has clearly already obtained some clothing and unknown other supplies and we want to minimize any opportunity to obtain anything more,” Bevins said. “It is important that we keep pressure on him as we continue the hunt.” Resident Joe Delahanty, 40, was stopped four times by officers on his way to work early Wednesday, including a state trooper asking him to open the trunk of his car as they looked for Cavalcante.

“This is the first time in nine years that I’ve felt the need to lock my house doors when leaving for work,” Delahanty told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Schools were closed as precaution and police warned the public in areas west of Philadelphia. Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug 31 after receiving a life sentence the week before for stabbing his girlfriend 38 times in front of her children in 2021. According to the Inquirer, he hopped off the roof of a prison building in similar circumstances to another inmate who escaped in May.

The Chester County prosecutor’s office announced a $10,000 reward and said that hundreds of officers, backed by helicopters, drones, night-vision goggles, and dogs, were on the hunt. Meanwhile, the UK justice minister on Thursday promised that a former soldier awaiting trial on terrorism charges would be hunted down, after he escaped from jail a day earlier. Daniel Abed Khalife fled from Wandsworth prison in south London on Wednesday morning, probably by clinging to the bottom of a delivery van.

His disappearance triggered a major manhunt, with extra security checks introduced at ports and airports amid fears the 21-year-old may try to flee the country. “Daniel Khalife will be found and he will be made to face justice,” UK Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told the lower house of parliament. Chalk said “local contingency plans for an unaccounted prisoner” had been activated shortly after the departure of a vehicle making a delivery to the prison’s kitchen at around 7:30 am (0630 GMT) Wednesday.

“The prison was put into a state of lockdown while staff attempted to determine Daniel Khalife’s whereabouts. “Strapping was found underneath the vehicle which appeared to indicate that Daniel Khalife may have held onto the underside of it in order to escape,” Chalk added. Khalife was reported to have been working in the prison kitchen and wearing white T-shirt and red-and-white checkered trousers when he absconded.

Kent Police said junctions on a motorway heading towards England’s south coast had been temporarily shut on Thursday due to enhanced security checks. Chalk announced an independent investigation into the escape and ordered urgent reviews into the categorization and placement of everyone held at Wandsworth prison and all those in custody for terror offences. – AFP

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