Accused stalker of WWE star Sonya Deville planned to restrain her with zip ties, duct tape

Hillsborough County

Prosecutors outline case for holding 24-year-old suspect from South Carolina without bond

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hillsborough County judge will consider at a hearing Thursday whether to hold WWE star Sonya Deville’s accused stalker and home intruder without bond until his trial.

Deputies arrested 24-year-old Phillip A. Thomas overnight Sunday inside the home in Lutz that’s owned by Deville.  

The South Carolina man is charged with three felonies: aggravated stalking, armed burglary,  and attempted kidnapping.

Deville was in the Tampa courtroom Monday looking up at the video monitor as her accused stalker made his first court appearance.

“Ma’am he’s going to have a pretrial detention hearing that I have to set in five days,” Judge Catherine Catlin told Deville.

Thomas drove to Florida, parked his car at the nearby Idlewild Baptist Church, walked to Deville’s home and cut a hole in the patio screen with a knife, deputies said. After waiting for hours, he set off the residential alarm when he entered through a back sliding door.

“I certainly said a prayer that day that she wasn’t injured or harmed in this person’s ill intent,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Monday.

The State Attorney’s Motion for Pretrial Detention obtained by 8 On Your Side describes the defendant’s obsession with the wrestler and it offers new details about his plot to capture her inside her home.

For up to five years, prosecutors said Thomas sent messages to the wrestler’s social media accounts that expressed “his deserve to meet with the victim” and “of a progressively more threatening manner.”

Over time, prosecutors said he “had become more agitated when the victim did not respond.”

According to the court document, Thomas sent at least one of the messages while either walking from the Idlewild Baptist Church to the house or from “the lanai or patio itself.”

After having his Miranda rights read, Thomas “admitted that his intention was to take (the victim) hostage” by spraying pepper spray, binding her hands with zip ties and “wrapping duct tape around her arms to prevent her from fighting back.”

When deputies arrested Thomas around 2:45 a.m. Sunday, they said they found him with the aforementioned items in his possession.

According to the court document, Thomas also told HCSO detectives he wanted to stop Deville from attending an upcoming event and that he would not let her leave her home “without answering all of his questions.”

“Lesser form of restraint other than restrain without bond will not suffice to protect either the victim or the safety of the public, given the defendant’s long term obsession with the victim, his anger as indicated in the messages, the lengths to which he planned and conducted an attempted kidnapping, including driving from South Carolina and lying in wait in the (victim’s) residence,” prosecutors wrote at the end of the motion.  

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