A South Carolina man was arrested on Sunday after he allegedly broke into the home of WWE star Sonya Deville to kidnap her.
Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, who works at an Applebee’s in South Carolina and drove 500 miles to Florida, began planning the abduction eight months ago, according to the Sheriff’s Office, but he had allegedly stalked his victim on social media for many years.
Although police did not identify the victim, the home where Thomas was arrested is owned by Deville, whose real name is 26-year-old Daria Berenato.
Deville currently stars in the E! cable channel reality TV series Total Divas.
Thomas had parked his car close to midnight on Saturday evening, just around the corner from the home in Lutz, Florida, about 15 miles north of Tampa.
Thomas was then seen to allegedly cut a hole in the patio screen and was outside on the patio for up to four hours watching his victim through the windows of the home, waiting before she went to bed before executing his plan.
Thomas is then alleged to have entered Deville’s home through the patio door in the early hours at 2.43am, setting off the alarm.
Deville fled the house with a friend and called 911 as she escaped.
When the police arrived on the scene, Thomas was still in the house and found to be carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape and mace along with several other items.
He is alleged to have told deputies that he was planning to take Deville hostage according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Thomas was charged with aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping, and criminal mischief. He is currently being held without bail.
‘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.
‘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 Thomas’ account, which contains mainly retweets and messages about Deville’s latest activities, he can be seen responding to some of her recent tweets.
‘I’m so proud of you Daria you’re a inspiration to me,’ her wrote in response to a tweet on July 30th wrote about her appearance at the GLAAD media awards, a nonprofit founded by LGBTQ people in the media.
Just over a week later, he wrote back to a psychiatrist who had tweeted, ‘#BreakingNews: U R Perfect!’
‘But what if others think I’m not and I have no self confidence or self worth?’ Thomas answered in response. ‘I’m asking for your advice because I need a second opinion on something that could determine what happens next in my life.’
It was clear that something was weighing on his mind.
Late on Sunday night, Deville tweeted: ‘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.’
Fellow WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil also noted that he had been in contact with Deville to confirm her wellbeing.
‘I have spoken to her and I’m glad she’s safe and I’m thankful and grateful that the sheriff’s office took care of the situation immediately. Celebrity status aside this is sickening. I am a product of a sexual assault and have zero-tolerance or respect for any human being that would violate a person’s privacy and or personal space,’ O’Neil said.