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Police dog named Yoda helps catch murderer who escaped from prison

Yoda the police dog  (via REUTERS)
Yoda the police dog (via REUTERS)

A police dog named Yoda helped US police to apprehend a convicted murder who escaped from a prison.

The 4-year-old Belgian Malinois assisted a small team of officers to arrest Dangelo Souza Cavalcante on Wednesday morning, nearly two weeks after his escape from Chester County Prison.

Cavalcante’s capture began shortly after midnight on Wednesday when police responded to an alarm at a nearby home. Around an hour later, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aircraft picked up a heat signal, and search teams were deployed.

He had been lying down to avoid detection in a remote wooded area when one of the search teams, consisting of around 20 to 25 members, came close enough for him to realise they were there.

As he attempted to crawl through heavy undergrowth, police released Yoda to pursue him. The dog bit Cavalante on the forehead before clenching his thigh and holding on, allowing officers to put him in handcuffs.

Law enforcement officers escort Danelo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks (AP)
Law enforcement officers escort Danelo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks (AP)

From the time law officers moved in to the time they captured Cavalcante took about five minutes, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

Mr Bivens said that Yoda had also prevented Cavalcante from using a stolen rifle in his possession. No shots were fired during the final tense minutes of the chase.

A jury found Cavalcante guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2021 stabbing death of his former girlfriend at her home in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania in front of her young children. After the murder, he fled but was arrested in Virginia.

He broke out of Chester County Prison on August 31 by climbing between two walls that formed a narrow corridor in the jail house yard and scrambling onto the roof, according to police.

His arrest followed a 14-day manhunt across the rolling farmlands and forests of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Robert Clark, a supervisor with the US Marshals Service fugitive task force, told CNN that Cavalcante had survived on watermelon that he found on a farm and drank water from streams.

“He was hiding his fecal matter under leaves and foliage so that law enforcement could not track him - he was a desperate man,” he added.

Cavalcante's “end game was to carjack somebody and head north up to Canada, and he intended to do that in the next 24 hours,” Mr Clark added.

He is also a suspect in a 2017 murder in Brazil, according to the US Marshals Service.