In a news conference on Wednesday, Howard Holland, the acting warden of the prison, described for the first time how Mr. Cavalcante escaped. A little before 9 a.m., while a basketball game was going on outside in the exercise yard, he said, Mr. Cavalcante crab-walked up two parallel walls — putting his hands on one wall and his feet on the other and quickly climbing to the roof, a feat captured on video that was shown at the news conference.
He pushed through two installations of razor wire, some of which was put in after another inmate escaped by the same route in May, and scaled a fence before making his way off the prison grounds. The earlier escape was thwarted within minutes when a corrections officer in a watchtower saw the person fleeing and sounded the alarm. But this time, the officer in the tower, for some reason, did not see Mr. Cavalcante, whose absence was discovered by officers in his cell block nearly an hour later. Mr. Holland said the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office was investigating the escape.
Mr. Cavalcante has been seen in the seven days since, once by a prison employee, several times in the ghostly infrared light of security cameras and most recently, said Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police, by a resident who spotted him on Tuesday evening in a creek bed, heading into the woods. The police arrived on the scene but were unable to track him, Colonel Bivens said, after a search dog suffered a “heat related emergency.” Because of that sighting, he said, authorities have expanded the area they are searching.
For many residents, Mr. Cavalcante has been an unseen presence dominating their daily lives, creating as much of an inconvenience as any sense of panic. Businesses have had to lock their doors, minor errands have entailed navigating roadblocks and TV news trucks and armed police officers have greeted residents in their driveways.
“It’s like our whole life is shut down over here,” said Kristin Muzik, 50, who stopped at a convenience store on Wednesday afternoon with her three children, whose schools were closed for a second day. “I really hope they catch him quickly.”