TAMPA (CBSMiami/AP) – A South Carolina man who reportedly spent eight years planning to kidnap WWE star Sonya Deville was caught after he allegedly broke into her home near Tampa.
Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, was arrested early Sunday for attempting to carry out the plot, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Daria Berenato, whose stage name is Sonya Deville, performs for WWE and stars in the E! cable channel reality TV series Total Divas. She later tweeted a thank you message to the sheriff’s office.
Thank you everyone for your love and concern. A very frightening experience but thankfully everyone is safe. A special thank you to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for their response and assistance. 🖤
— Daddy Deville (@SonyaDevilleWWE) August 17, 2020
Thomas faces charges of aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping, and criminal mischief.
According to investigators, Thomas parked his car at a nearby church, walked to the home, and cut a hole in a screen to enter the home’s patio, where he stayed for three to four hours watching and listening through the windows.
Thomas went inside the home through a sliding glass door at 2:43 a.m., after Berenato had gone to bed, the release said. The alarm activated.
Sheriff’s officials said she looked out a window and saw Thomas before she left with a guest in a car. She also called 911.
Thomas was still at the home when deputies arrived. He had a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace, and other items, and told deputies he was planning to take Berenato hostage, the sheriff’s office said.
“Our deputies are unveiling the suspect’s disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “It’s frightening to think of all the ways this incident could have played out had the home alarm not gone off and alerted the homeowner of an intruder.”
On the jail records, Thomas is listed as an Applebee’s crew member. He was being held without bail.