McDowell County Register of Deeds Tonia Hampton has been charged with threatening her estranged son-in-law via text message and is due in court next month.

According to an arrest warrant served on Tuesday morning, Hampton sent a threatening text message earlier this week to 26-year-old Nebo resident Jesse Dellinger, her son-in-law, in which she wrote “I will kill you Jesse Dellinger.” She was subsequently charged with cyberstalking.

In screenshots of the conversation obtained by The McDowell News, the Register of Deeds wrote on Monday at 12:23 p.m., “Jesse I told you that I would win, so leave me and my daughter alone. I will destroy you myself if I have to. I will kill you Jesse Dellinger.”

In a phone call with The McDowell News, Dellinger discussed that message, as well as others sent between Sunday night and Monday afternoon leading to the threat. Dellinger claims that issues between Hampton and him, as her son-in-law, existed throughout their relationship and came to head within the last three to four weeks when he and his wife broke up.

“I just want people to know, because she’s an elected official she thinks she can get away with this kind of stuff, and she usually does,” said Dellinger.

Referencing one of Hampton’s messages, Dellinger claimed that his status as an ex-convict was a point of contention in their relationship as in-laws.

According to NC Department of Public Safety records, Dellinger was convicted in 2011 on multiple counts of burglary, larceny and breaking and entering. He would serve almost four years in prison.

Dellinger also confirmed that a 50-B Order (or domestic violence protective order) exists between him and his wife. At this time, they are legally separated.

In an email sent to The McDowell News, Dellinger wrote: “I left town because of her position with the county. I feel like she thinks she’s untouchable and I’m scared. I came to stay with some family members until all this is settled.”

He said another relative has also called threatened him.

“I can’t have any contact with my wife, which is her daughter, so at this point I just want to be left alone from this family,” he said.

When asked for comment, Tonia Hampton emailed The McDowell News this statement: “As your Register of Deeds, I am embarrassed that my personal family business has to appear in the newspaper. I am an excellent Register of Deeds and daily serve the community to protect your county records, however; God and my family are the top priority in my life. My daughter is married to Jesse Dellinger, and she has a 50-B Domestic Violence Protective Order currently standing for herself and our family. My Attorney Larry McMahan will be making all statements on my behalf from this point forward.”

Hampton, first elected in 2012, had another brush with the legal system while serving as register of deeds.

In an unrelated incident in February 2018, Donita Plemmons, co-owner of Top Fuel Grill in Old Fort, filed a temporary restraining order against Hampton following an alleged vulgar phone call made to her and her business with threats to sue for slander and defamation. The restraining order was dismissed in court one week later.

On Tuesday’s charge, Hampton received a written promise to appear in court, scheduled for Sept. 13.

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