Eight months of planning by a man described by police as "obsessed" with WWE wrestler Sonya Deville led to an attempted early morning kidnapping on Sunday. Court filings by the wrestler have now provided insight into the frightening moments, and the intruder's dangerous obsession.
Phillip Thomas, 24, was arrested after traveling from South Carolina to Deville's home in Lutz, Florida, allegedly intending to take Deville, whose real name is Daria Berenato, hostage. Thomas was charged with armed kidnapping, armed burglary and aggravated stalking -- all felonies -- as well as one charge of criminal mischief.
According to police, Thomas planned the crime for eight months and sat outside Berenato's home for several hours before attempting entry, but Berenato was alerted to his entry into her home via a sliding-glass door when it activated an alarm. Berenato saw Thomas on her property after looking out a window, at which point she and fellow WWE wrestler Mandy Rose, real name Amanda Saccomanno, who was staying in the home as a guest, fled, calling 911 in the process.
Police arrived to find Thomas still in the residence, carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape and mace.
"Our deputies are unveiling the suspect's disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years," sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. "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. Our deputies arrived within minutes and arrested this man who was clearly on a mission to inflict harm."
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
Since the arrest, Berenato has filed a court petition seeking protection from Thomas. In the petition, she described the events that happened after rushing to the garage to disarm the alarm system and ensure the rear door was closed.
"What are doing, what do you want?" Berenato's petition says she yelled before he began walking in her direction while holding pepper spray and a knife. "That is when I realized this person was not here to rob me, he was there to hurt me."
In the documents, Berenato stated that she reviewed security camera footage and that Thomas had followed her when she ran to retrieve Saccomanno but believed she had ran up her stairs, which allowed the pair to escape the residence.
Berenato also stated that, upon learning Thomas' name, she checked her direct messages request folder and found hundreds of messages from Thomas dating back over a year. The messages were "were obsessive, suicidal, idolizing," Berenato wrote. Thomas appears to have sent messages from a second account also, the last of which was sent hours before the break-in, reading, "Look outside, baby, by your pool. I'm here. I'm gonna kill that little b---- you have inside with you."
Berenato is a member of the WWE SmackDown roster and is set to compete in Sunday's SummerSlam event. She is also WWE's first openly-gay female wrestler.