This is awful… but we are SO glad the police were able to arrest this guy before anything worse happened.
WWE superstar wrestler Sonya Deville was resting comfortably in her Lutz, Florida home early Sunday morning when, at about 3:00 a.m. local time, an intruder cut a hole in a patio screen door and gained entry to her house. The break-in set off alarms, and Deville (and a guest) quickly fled the home and called 911.
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When Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on scene minutes later, they found a gruesome scene: 24-year-old Philip A. Thomas (pictured above, inset) was still in the home and was reportedly armed with a knife, zip ties, and duct tape. As police put the pieces together on this one, too, they quickly realized Thomas was an obsessed fan of the wrestling superstar, and allegedly there to kidnap the 26-year-old woman and “inflict harm.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Thomas had apparently been planning a kidnapping of Deville for the last eight months, stalking her obsessively on social media and tracing her whereabouts more recently as she went about her day-to-day life in Florida. On Saturday night, then, the young man allegedly decided to make his move, parking his car at a nearby church before walking to the WWE star’s house and waiting for several hours before breaking in.
Seeing his alleged kidnapping kit and tracking his online activity and monitoring, police determined Thomas’ alleged motive and wound up charging him with attempted armed kidnapping, armed burglary, aggravated stalking, and misdemeanor criminal mischief.
In a statement released to the media, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shared more information about the arrest, and his alleged motives, adding (below):
“Our deputies are unveiling the suspect’s disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years. 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.”
Wow… truly horrifying.
Deville — real name Daria Berenato — also released her own statement on Sunday evening about the ordeal, thanking fans for their concern and responding police officers for their quick work to nab the suspect:
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
She shared a similar message to her Instagram account, as well. Deville first appeared on the WWE reality TV competition show Tough Enough back in 2015, using that as her big break in the industry. She’s since gone on to become an influential superstar for the company, now boasting nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter along with just under one million on her IG account.
Our thoughts are with her as she deals with the fallout from this harrowing ordeal. Here’s hoping she is never again victimized by Thomas or any other obsessed fan or stalker like this. Ugh…
[Image via WENN/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
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