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A South Carolina man was arrested early Sunday in Lutz, Florida, for attempting to kidnap a local homeowner he had been stalking on social media, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Kavitha Surana.
While the the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office did not identify the victim, the scene of the arrest was reportedly a house owned by Daria Berenato, who is better known by her WWE moniker, Sonya Deville.
The man, 24-year-old Phillip A. Thomas II, had reportedly planned the abduction for eight months.
Intruder found with zip ties, duct tape, knife
According to the sheriff’s office, Thomas parked his car at a nearby church around midnight and walked to the house, where he waited on the patio while looking into the house through the windows. At 2:43 a.m., the homeowner reportedly went to bed, at which point Thomas allegedly entered the house through a sliding door and activated the alarm.
The homeowner then reportedly saw Thomas on the property, fled from the scene with a guest and called 911.
Thomas was reportedly still at the house when deputies arrived. Per authorities, he was carrying, among other things, a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape and mace, and told deputies that he was planning to take the homeowner hostage.
Thomas has reportedly been charged with aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping and criminal mischief. He is being held without bail.
From the Times:
“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 in the news release. “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.”
While Thomas had never met the homeowner, his Twitter account @Phillip80400010 consists of repeated tweets and retweets about Deville and her career. His most recent activity was retweeting this from WWE about Deville’s upcoming appearance at SummerSlam:
Who will leave The Biggest Event of the Summer with a shocking new do? Catch the wild Hair vs. Hair Match and all of #SummerSlam, streaming on @WWENetwork Monday, August 24 at 9am (AEST). https://t.co/4JMdHOLxsA pic.twitter.com/UfvNBcTbU5
— WWE Australia (@WWEAustralia) August 15, 2020
The 26-year-old Deville is the first openly gay female wrestler in WWE history, and currently stars in the company’s “Total Divas” reality show.
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