TAMPA — Professional wrestling star Daria Berenato continued to receive threats from other people after the arrest this month of a man prosecutors say broke into her Hillsborough County home intending to kidnap her, according to a court document.
Phillip A. Thomas, 24, remains jailed without bail on stalking, burglary and armed kidnapping charges. But in the days since Thomas’ Aug. 16 arrest, Berenato received messages threatening to “finish what Phillip started,” and stating that “my knife is sharper than Phillip’s.”
The threats are referenced in a court paper prosecutors filed this week, which gives notice that they intend to make certain information confidential to protect Berenato and a witness in the case.
The messages were sent to Berenato from “unknown other individuals,” the paper states, but it gives no additional information. It references a state law designed to protect the names and personal information of crime victims who are at risk of harm. Photographs included as evidence in the case contain information about Berenato’s home, the paper states.
Prosecutors say Thomas traveled more than 450 miles from his South Carolina home to Berenato’s residence near Tampa. He got inside a screened-in lanai.
Berenato testified in a bail hearing last week that she awoke just after 2:30 a.m. to the blaring of her home security system. She got up and woke a friend who was sleeping in a guest bedroom, then went to a living room where she could see through a glass door to the lanai a man dressed in black clothing.
She said the man stared at her as she screamed. She and her friend fled the home and called 911. Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies soon arrived and found Thomas inside, according to court records. He had with him a knife and pepper spray.
Berenato, 26, performs for World Wrestling Entertainment under the name Sonya Deville. She later learned that Thomas had sent her hundreds of messages on social media, she said. They included threats to harm her and her family. She didn’t see the messages, which dated back months, until recently.