by Lisa Scottoline

I live in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the location of a recent manhunt.

I’m not referring to my social life.

Me, I stopped manhunting.

I hung up my push-ups.

Now everything is falling down.

But I think of it as falling into place.

Anyway, the manhunt I‘m referring to is for Danelo Cavalcante, a convicted murderer who escaped from Chester County Prison, which is not far from me. He’s been captured, but it’s been an interesting two weeks for a woman who lives in a wooded area.

It’s a suburban horror story, like parallel parking.

As soon as Cavalcante escaped, the manhunt was on.

And so were the critics.

“How could the prison let that happen?”“Quick, who can we blame?”

Coincidentally, I’ve been at Chester County Prison to research a novel I wrote. Its title was Daddy‘s Girl, and it was about a law professor from Penn who happened to be at the prison when there was an escape.

Frankly, it didn’t look easy to me.

I staged a fictional escape by having the convict dig a tunnel.

I didn’t think anybody could crabwalk up a wall, like Cavalcante.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

At least my fiction.

I’d get fired if I wrote something that crazy, so who could imagine it?

Bottom line, everybody’s job is harder than it looks.

And everything’s easier said than done.

The same goes with the manhunt.

After Cavalcante escaped, state and federal law enforcement searched for him around the clock, but after the first few days, it was the critics who came out of hiding.

“Why haven’t they caught him yet?” “What’s taking so long?”

Allow me to explain.

I moved here because Chester County is beautifully rural. I live on a farm among open pastures, vast cornfields, and a slew of outbuildings.

This is a perfect locale for writers.

Also fugitives.

And by the way, the manhunt took place during the worst weather, with pouring rain.

I can’t see in rain. Can you?

That’s why they have windshield wipers.

Anyway, as the search wore on, I hoped they would find Cavalcante, but I understood why they hadn’t yet.

I’m sure plenty of critics can find a needle in a haystack.

But guess what, Chester County even has haystacks.

I myself have haystacks.

In fact, ten years ago, somebody set fire to a whole bunch of haystacks in the pasture next to me.

They never caught the guy.

You know why?

He hid in Chester County.

Plus it’s easy for a guy to hide when he’s five feet tall.

I’m about five feet tall.

The first thing I thought when I read Cavalcante’s description is that he’s my goal weight.

And I’m not.

Teddy Roosevelt was right when he said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena….”


While some manhunt, others blame-hunt.

I’m not against free speech, but I’m acutely aware that people put their lives on the line to protect me.

And in the end, amazingly, they found the needle in the haystack!

They caught Cavalcante without harm to any resident, law enforcement, or even the felon himself, which makes me happy.

I believe in law, and he’ll go back to jail where he belongs.

So I won’t throw stones, especially after such a happy ending.

What I’m throwing is flowers.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023