According to the Tampa Bay Times, a man named Phillip A. Thomas was arrested Sunday for an attempted kidnapping at a Lutz, Florida, home owned by Daria Berenato, better known to pro-wrestling and E!’s Total Divas fans by her WWE stage name, Sonya Deville. While police did not identify the intended victim by name, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Thomas had been planning the abduction for eight months.
Per the Times, Thomas reportedly gained access to the home after midnight on Sunday morning by cutting a hole in a patio screen and waiting for several hours until the homeowner went to sleep. When he attempted to open a sliding glass door, a security alarm sounded, and the resident and another person staying in the home escaped in a car and called 911. Police found the South Carolina man still in the residence when they arrived, carrying a “knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace and other items.” He reportedly “told deputies he was planning to take the homeowner hostage” and was subsequently charged with aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping, and criminal mischief.
“Our deputies are unveiling the suspect’s disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years,” Hillsborough 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.”
Update: On Sunday evening, Deville tweeted a thank you to supportive fans. “Thank you everyone for your love and concern,” she posted. “A very frightening experience but thankfully everyone is safe. A special thank you to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for their response and assistance.”