An man with an apparent obsession for WWE wrestler Sonya Deville allegedly broke into her house over the weekend with the intent to take her hostage.
Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, allegedly traveled from South Carolina to Lutz, Florida where the 26-year-old athlete lives, according to a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“He was carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, and mace” as he broke into Deville’s home early Sunday morning, investigators said. Thomas allegedly cut a hole in the home’s patio screen, and remained there for about four hours, “watching and listening through the windows,” authorities said. He then entered the home through a back sliding door after Deville went to bed. The door activated the home alarm and woke up Deville, who saw the alleged break-in unfold from a window. She managed to get out, drive away and call 911.
When deputies arrived, Thomas was still inside her house. While investigators did not name the homeowner, ESPN confirmed via public records that the house is owned by Daria Berenato, Deville’s legal name.
Thomas allegedly admitted that he'd planned on taking Deville hostage in an attack he'd been planning for eight months. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Thomas was “specifically targeting this homeowner who he didn't know, but stalked on social media for years.”
Sheriff Chad Chronister stated that Thomas had a “disturbing obsession” with his would-be victim.
"Thank you everyone for your love and concern,” Deville tweeted on Sunday. “A very frightening experience but thankfully everyone is safe. A special thank you to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for their response and assistance.”
Thomas has been charged with aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping, and criminal mischief.
He works as a Applebee’s crew member in South Carolina, according to his online jail records.
It’s unclear if Thomas has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf. He is being held without bail.
Deville has been a WWE wrestler since 2015. She is also a former MMA fighter.
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