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August 17, 2020

WWE star Sonya Deville escapes attempted kidnapping at Florida home

South Jersey native thanks fans for their 'love and concern'

Investigations Burglaries
Sonya Deville WWE Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, of South Carolina, allegedly planned to kidnap WWE star Sonya Deville and hold her hostage.

A South Carolina man allegedly broke into the home of WWE star Sonya Deville with plans to kidnap the South Jersey native, who described the experience as "very frightening." 

Phillip A. Thomas II, 24, cut a hole in the patio screen of Deville's Lutz, Florida home and waited three or four hours for the wrestler to go to bed, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. He allegedly entered the home through the back sliding glass door around 2:43 a.m. Sunday, activating the alarm. 

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Deville and a guest fled from the home in a car and called 911, authorities said. Deputies allegedly found Thomas inside the home and armed with a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace and other personal items. 

Sonya Deville Phillip Thomas

Thomas told deputies that he was planning to take Deville hostage. He allegedly had been planning the kidnapping for eight months, having stalked Deville on social media for years. 

Deputies did not identify Deville, whose legal name is Daria Berenato, in their news release, but public records revealed her as the homeowner, the Tampa Bay Times reported. 

The wrestler, who grew up in Burlington County, addressed the incident on social media Sunday. 

"Thank you everyone for your love and concern," she wrote. "A very frightening experience but thankfully everyone is safe."

Thomas was charged with attempted armed kidnapping, burglary, aggravated stalking and mischief.  

"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," Sheriff Chad Chronister said. "Our deputies arrived within minutes and arrested this man who was clearly on a mission to inflict harm."

Deville, WWE's first openly gay female wrestler, also stars on the E! network reality show, "Total Divas."

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