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Prisoner Escapes Put London, Pennsylvania, and DC on High Alert

Escaped prisoners and suspects have been popping up in the Security Management news feed. According to reports, aspects of the getaways sounded like a scene out of a movie, with escapees scaling walls, slipping out of police custody, or clinging to the underside of cars.

Washington, D.C., USA

Christopher Haynes, 30, escaped from police custody while at the George Washington University (GWU) Hospital on 6 September. Details of his escape have not yet been released.

Haynes was charged with homicide, and his escape prompted a shelter-in-place order for GWU students that started roughly around 3:30 p.m. and lasted nearly five hours. The university also canceled all evening events and activities while encouraging faculty to teach remotely, if possible.

Along with the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police are also assisting in the investigation. Officials said they do not believe that Haynes is still in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

“Haynes was arrested on murder charges earlier Wednesday in Manassas, Virginia, and extradited back to D.C.,” according to the local NBC News station. “Law enforcement told News4 that officers brought him to the ER because he requested medical treatment for an old injury.”

He is considered dangerous, according to authorities, who also advised residents not to engage him if spotted and instead call 911. The FBI has offered a $10,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

London, England

On 6 September, Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, escaped from HMP Wandsworth in London, where he was being held on terrorism charges.

Khalife, who joined the British Army in 2019 and worked as a computer network engineer, is accused of planting fake bombs on a military base in Stafford, England. He also faces charges of violating the Official Secrets Act, including allegedly working for a hostile state and collecting information that would be useful for a terrorist.

Law enforcement told reporters Khalife escaped from the jail while wearing a prison-issued kitchen uniform. Various news outlets said he also strapped himself to the undercarriage of a departing food delivery van.

An unnamed security official told The Independent that Khalife’s escape was not “opportunistic” but instead accomplished with support from an insider. The same source said that all prison staff were being interviewed.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, said that all police forces and border crossings are on the lookout for Khalife. Throughout the nation, airports and ports are initiating additional security measures, warning travelers to expect delays.

Authorities said that they believe Khalife does not pose a high risk to the public; however, they urge people not to approach him and instead call 999 if he is spotted.

Pennsylvania, USA

Danelo Sousa Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Prison on 31 August, where he was being held awaiting a transfer to state prison, and continues to evade police capture.

Cavalcante was convicted in August of fatally stabbing his girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, outside of Brandao’s home in Schuylkill Township, Pennsylvania, and sentenced to life in prison. In 2021, he stabbed Brandao more than 35 times in front of her children, apparently to stop her from reporting his location to law enforcement after she discovered an outstanding warrant for Calvacante in connection to a 2017 murder in Brazil.

Cavalcante’s escape route was nearly identical to another inmate’s escape in May 2023. Surveillance footage showed that he managed the escape from the Philadelphia prison facility by crab-walking up a wall, climbing over razor wire, and jumping from a roof—all while avoiding detection from the guards. One guard, who was stationed in an observation tower, has been placed on administrative leave following the incident.

In curious timing, the acting warden, Howard Holland, was appointed to the position less than 24 hours before Cavalcante’s prison break. The prison’s former warden, Ronald Phillips, was placed on administrative leave on 28 July.

Since his escape, Cavalcante has been spotted at least six times, including on a trail surveillance video in Longwood Gardens—a botanical garden in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, that spans more than 1,077 acres and is only a short drive from the prison.

Two local school districts—Kennet Consolidated School District and Unionville-Chadds Ford School District—canceled classes and school activities on Tuesday and Wednesday because some of their facilities fell within the search area authorities were focused on. The Kennett Township Board of Supervisors canceled their regular meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday to avoid interference with search efforts.

Federal authorities issued a warrant for Cavalcante’s arrest and state police have offered a $10,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest. The Chester County commissioners and U.S. Marshals are each offering a $5,000 reward for similar information.

Recent Captures

It’s like the old saying goes, but in reverse: when one door opens, another closes on a former escapee.

On 5 September, Lennox VanVacter, 30, was recaptured after escaping from Humboldt County Jail in Humboldt, Iowa. VanVacter, 30, allegedly assaulted a jailer earlier that same day and fled the fail on foot. He was spotted by a city employee and surrendered to law enforcement within 20 minutes of his short-lived escape. Besides escape from custody and the assault on an officer, VanVacter faces a robbery charge. VanVacter is the second inmate to escape from the jail in less than two weeks.

On 29 August, authorities captured Samuel Hartman—a convicted child rapist who escaped from the East Arkansas Regional Unit in August 2022. Hartman and the women accused of helping in his escape were arrested in West Virginia. Hartman, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2013, escaped while on a work detail when a pickup truck with two accomplices approached him. The two women inside fired at corrections officers while Hartman ran to the truck, which later drove to the nearby Mississippi River. From there, Hartman and his accomplices used jet skis to complete the escape.