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BORTAC K-9, heat-sensing plane helped capture escaped Pa. murderer

Yoda, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, bit convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante on the head as he tried to evade tactical units


Meet Yoda, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois BORTAC K-9.

U.S. Marshals Service Philadelphia

By Sarah Roebuck

POTTSTOWN, Pa. — The search for an escaped prisoner came to an end after he was on the run for nearly two weeks and a K-9 with the U.S. Border and Customs Patrol played a big role in the suspect’s capture.

Meet Yoda, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois BORTAC K-9. Yoda bit Danelo Cavalcante on the head as he tried to evade tactical units on Wednesday, CBS Philadelphia reports.

Border patrol agents hailing from Buffalo, Detroit, Blaine, Washington, Swanton, Vermont, and El Paso, Texas, collaborated with other federal, state and local law enforcement authorities in the pursuit of Cavalcante. The Pennsylvania State Police led the manhunt.

A significant breakthrough for law enforcement occurred overnight when a plane equipped with a thermal imaging camera detected Cavalcante’s heat signature, the Associated Press reports. This allowed ground teams to lock down the area, encircle Cavalcante and deploy search K-9s for the final approach.

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The fugitive, still wielding the rifle he had taken from a residential garage during his escape, attempted to evade capture by crawling through the underbrush. However, a search K-9 managed to apprehend him, according to Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens. He noted that the suspect continued to resist even as he was being arrested after 8 a.m.

Cavalcante received a bite on his scalp, resulting in a minor injury, Bivens said during a news conference. A dog also clamped onto his thigh, which is when Cavalcante surrendered, Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Clark told The Associated Press.

During a news conference, law enforcement officials said a combination of K-9 units and thermal imaging helped bring Cavalcante back to custody.

Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 by crab-walking between two walls that were topped with razor wire, then jumping from the roof. Cavalcante was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her children in 2021.