Being a celebrity in the sports and entertainment field definitely has its perks. But that celebrity can also have its many drawbacks. Fans of certain celebrities, for the most part, seem to understand the line not to cross. There are those, unfortunately, who decide that line does not apply to them. This was the case for WWE superstar Sonya Deville, when a stalker entered her home with bad intentions.
Deville, whose real name is Daria Berenato, was fast asleep when the alarm to her home went off around 2:45 a.m. A guest was also staying in her home at the time, so they both went to the sliding glass door to investigate. What they found was both frightening and dangerous. A man (later identified as Phillip A. Thomas II) was in her home, carrying a knife and mace.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Thomas had parked his car down the street, walking to Deville’s house carrying items that included the knife and mace as well as plastic zip ties, window punches, and duct tape. Clearly his intentions were not good.
When Thomas arrived at the house, he cut a hole in the patio screen, remaining on the patio for a good three to four hours, listening in and watching Deville and her guest. After he was sure they were asleep, he entered the house through the unlocked sliding door, tripping the alarm. Per the Tampa Bay Times, “The defendant remained inside the residence, as he believed the victims were hiding upstairs and he was waiting for them to come downstairs,” said the arrest report. “The defendant was located within the residence and taken into custody by deputies.”
Deville came to prominence on the WWE brand by way of WWE Tough Enough, where she was a contestant in 2015. She ended up in eleventh place but shortly after she was eliminated from the competition show, she signed a contract with the WWE. Deville also has a background in MMA, prompting many of her fans to say she could have handled herself if things got tenser. Thankfully they didn’t.
Both Deville and her guest were able to flee in a car while Thomas remained thinking they were hiding upstairs. “The defendant remained inside the residence, as he believed the victims were hiding upstairs and he was waiting for them to come downstairs,” the arrest report said. “The defendant was located within the residence and taken into custody by deputies.”
After his arrest, Thomas told deputies that he had been stalking Deville for years on social media and that he went to the house to kidnap the WWE superstar. Thomas faces charges of armed kidnapping, aggravated stalking and armed burglary of a dwelling, all of which are felonies, as well as criminal mischief, which falls under a misdemeanor.
Sheriff Chad Chronister made this statement about the incident, “Our deputies are unveiling the suspect’s disturbing obsession with this homeowner who he had never met, but stalked on social media for years. 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. Our deputies arrived within minutes and arrested this man who was clearly on a mission to inflict harm.”
Deville has waited for things to settle down a bit before finally acknowledging the scary incident while also praising the Sheriff’s department for their quick response. “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,” she said in a tweet.
Thankfully, all’s well that ends well. Also, thankfully, the “defund the police” movement has not hit Hillsborough County, at least not yet.