NewsHillsborough County


Man accused of stalking, breaking into WWE star's home held without bond

Posted at 8:07 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 23:39:17-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- A South Carolina man who is accused of traveling to Lutz in a plot to hold a WWE star hostage will remain behind bars without bail.

Phillip Thomas appeared at a hearing on Thursday before the judge ultimately ruled in favor of detaining Thomas without bond.

“This man poses an ongoing danger to the victim and to public safety as a whole,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a press release. “There’s a high bar when we ask for someone to be held without bond. But the facts of this case send a shiver down your spine—and it’s clear this man needs to stay behind bars until he can face justice.”

Over the weekend, Thomas was arrested after setting off an alarm after he broke into WWE wrester Sonya Deville's home, who lives in Lutz. Warren's office says Thomas sent messages to Deville that laid out a "violent plan to travel from his home in South Carolina, attack the victim and another person, and hold the victim hostage."

Deville was in the courtroom during the hearing on Thursday. She described in detail how she escaped out of her home after seeing the intruder.

She said her alarm system woke her up around 3 a.m. She turned on the lights and checked her sliding glass door.

"The curtains were drawn so I pulled them back and I saw a man standing there and he had black clothes on and a black mask and he was just standing there staring at me," said Deville.

"That's when I was like, 'Oh my God, this is...this is...this must be more than a burglary or robbery or anything like that,'" she added.

She ran to get her friend who was staying in a guestroom. The two escaped through the garage and got into a car. Deville said her foot was on the gas and not the brake.

"We were terrified. I jumped in the driver's seat and she was in the passenger seat. I was screaming, 'Your car won't start, your car won't start,'" she said.

She said they took off in the car. Her friend called 911 and deputies arrived quickly.

"We eventually circled back and stayed like a good distance from my house and we saw the deputy with his gun drawn in my garage," said Deville.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: South Carolina man traveled to Lutz home owned by WWE star to hold homeowner hostage

During an investigation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office found out Thomas was carrying a knife, plastic zip ties, duct tape, mace and other items. On Sunday, Thomas was charged with aggravated stalking, armed burglary of a dwelling, attempted armed kidnapping and criminal mischief.

Thomas had been trying to contact Deville for several months, according to Warren's office.

According to Warren's office, prosecutors presented the following evidence during Thursday's pretrial hearing:

  • Disturbing, increasingly violent private messages Thomas sent to the victim over the course of several months
  • Photos of duct tape, zip ties, pepper spray, and burglary tools Thomas carried to the victim’s home
  • Testimony from the victim herself, describing the terror of watching Thomas attempt to break into her home