Danelo Cavalcante

Danelo Cavalcante

WEST CHESTER — It may be several weeks before the Royersford man who is accused of stabbing his former girlfriend to death in front of her two young children is returned to Chester County to face homicide charges, according to prosecution officials.

Danelo Cavalcante is being detained in Virginia after being apprehended and arrested on a warrant from the Chester County Detectives and Schuylkill Township police for the Sunday murder of 33-year-old Deborah Brandao. He is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, aggravated assault, and related offenses.

According to a spokeswoman for the county District Attorney’s Office, Michelle Bjork, the process for extraditing a criminal defendant from Virginia is complex and does not give a defendant the opportunity to either waive or refuse extradition.

Instead, an attorney is assigned to a defendant’s case and explains the extradition process to them. That attorney may then ask that the process be expedited, depending on the circumstances of the case. Cavalcante, who was arraigned on the homicide charges after his apprehension, is next scheduled to appear in a Virginia court on May 19, Bjork said.

When returned to Pennsylvania, Cavalcante would presumably be taken to Magisterial District Court in Phoenixville and arraigned on the charges. He would not be permitted to have bail set because of the first-degree murder charge.

Brandao was pronounced dead at Paoli Hospital after suffering multiple stab wounds to her chest in the confrontation with Cavalcante, according to a criminal complaint filed by Chester County Detective David Nieves and Schuylkill Officer Chris Aquilante.

In a news conference Monday announcing Cavalcante’s arrest, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan called the murder, “a heartbreaking tragedy."

“Two children are left without a mother,” Ryan said, adding she would handle prosecution of the case herself. “The pain these children and all of Deborah’s loved ones are enduring as a result of this depravity is horrific. We will ensure that the defendant is brought to justice for this cold-blooded, premeditated, and despicable act.”

It is the fourth homicide in the county in 2021. In January, a West Whiteland man allegedly shot and killed his wife and their two children in their home before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

In the Schuylkill Township case, township police were dispatched to the 300 block of Pawling Road for a domestic disturbance around 4:15 p.m. When they arrived, they found Brandao on the ground outside the home there with multiple stab wounds to the chest. 

A neighbor had attempted life-saving measures, but Brandao was transported to Paoli Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before 5 p.m.

Investigators later learned that Brandao’s 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were outside with their mother when Cavalcante, who the children recognized as her ex-boyfriend, arrived in a car.

The young girl told police that Cavalcante grabbed Brandao’s hair, yanking her to the ground, and appeared to pull two knives from a bag he had behind his back, saying, he was “going to do something bad to their lives,” according to the arrest affidavit. He threatened to kill Brandao, then got on top of her and stabbed her over a dozen times in the chest and upper torso. 

During the struggle, Brandao was able to tell the girl to get help, and the child ran to a neighbor’s house, where the neighbor called 911. Cavalcante fled the scene before police arrived.

When police investigators showed the girl a photo of Cavalcante, she quickly identified him as the person who had stabbed her mother. “That’s him, that’s the guy that killed my mom,” the complaint quotes her as saying. “Please get him and put him in prison.”

In the initial report of the incident, authorities said that Cavalcante had been forbidden from approaching Brandao under the terms of a Protection From Abuse order that she had obtained in December 2020. However, it appears as though that order had been dismissed by a Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge after Brandao failed to appear for a scheduled hearing to make the temporary order permanent.

It was unclear what behavior Cavalcante had engaged in to prompt Brandao to seek a PFA order. A man with his name was charged with simple assault, terroristic threats and harassment by Upper Providence police in June, but the charges were listed as inactive on Tuesday, 

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the matter to contact Nieves at 610-344-4605.

To contact Staff Writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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