In petitioning the court for protection from Phillip A. Thomas, the man authorities have identified as her assailant, Daria Berenato (better known to WWE fans as Sonya Deville) wrote about his unsuccessful attempt to kidnap her in the early hours of Sun., Aug. 16. Her account reveals scary details about not only the incident at her home this past weekend, but also the online behavior of the 24 year old from South Carolina who admitted he drove to Berenato’s Florida home intending to take her hostage.
News of the court document comes from the Tampa Bay Times, the same outlet which broke the story of the attempted kidnapping.
At 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning, Berenato went to bed at her home in Lutz, Florida. At 2:41 a.m., her home security system woke her. The keypad told her which door had triggered the alarm, then she woke a friend who was in the house at the time and went to check a sliding glass door in her family room. She saw Thomas on her back patio and yelled, “What are doing, what do you want?” They came face-to-face, and she saw that he was holding pepper spray and a knife: “That is when I realized this person was not here to rob me, he was there to hurt me.”
Berenato then ran to get her friend, identified in another court document as Amanda Saccomanno (WWE’s Mandy Rose), and the two fled to the garage and drove away. She called 9-1-1, and saw on her security camera that Thomas believed they’d gone upstairs. His mistake may have been what allowed them to escape.
After police gave Berenato her assailant’s name, she searched her social media and found hundreds of messages from him in her Instagram ‘request’ folder. “The nature of the messages from this account were obsessive, suicidal, idolizing, saying, ‘You are the only person I will ever love,’” she wrote in her protection petition. Messages threatened violence against Berenato’s friends and family by name, described sex acts, and included graphic pictures.
Thomas admitted to authorities “that his intention was to take Mrs. Berenato hostage by spraying her (with) pepper spray, binding her hands with the zip ties, and wrapping duct tape around her arms to prevent from fighting back,” according to a prosecution motion. “He stated that he intended to keep Mrs. Bernato hostage, preventing her from attending a planned event schedule for the following week, and that he was not going to leave her residence without her answering all of his questions.”
The “planned event” was likely SummerSlam, where Deville and Rose are scheduled to wrestle in a hair vs. hair match.
Some of the Instagram messages were sent during the three to four hours Thomas admitted to spending on Berenato’s patio, looking through her windows before he triggered the alarm.
A judge has granted a temporary stalking violence injunction against Thomas, and he remains in jail on charges of armed kidnapping, aggravated stalking and armed burglary of a dwelling, all felonies, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. A hearing is set for Thursday on the prosecution’s motion to prevent him from being released on bail.