Connie Britton and Eric Bana star together on the limited series Dirty John, which is based on the true story of John Meehan and Debra Newell. The couple got together quickly and things turned dark as secrets from Bana’s past came to light. Their relationship ended in the violent death of Meehan, which makes fans wonder about the real life of John Meehan, outside of the series.
Meehan’s life before meeting Newell is made to be part of the series, showing the story behind his first wife and two daughters. Abigail, aka Abby, and Emily Meehan are Meehan’s two kids and their mother, Meehan’s first wife, is Tonia Sells. The children’s characters don’t play huge roles on the show, but Sells definitely has her moments in the series. All three seem to be in support of Dirty John. The two girls even posed with star Eric Bana, who plays their late father. See a photo of them in the below Instagram pic.
Emily has followed in her parents’ footsteps and works in the medical field as a nurse. Meanwhile, Abby is still in college, according to Bustle.
The fact that Emily and Abby were so supportive of Dirty John, which doesn’t paint the best picture of their dad, may be surprising. But, Emily told Murderish that she was so desensitized that when she was told about her father’s death, she initially was not emotional. Emily explained, “If I am telling someone about my dad or the story, it’s almost like I’m telling someone else’s story. So I wasn’t upset at first. I was like, ‘Well, what a way to go’ … but it definitely hit me a week later.” She continued, “‘I’m his daughter, I’m his blood. Like, I’m half of him.’ And it hurts my self-esteem when I talk about it and when I think about it. But then again, I’m like, well, if anything I have a golden mom, who I would want to be— I want to be just like her. But that was a self-conflict I did have and my sister did take it a lot harder than I did, but I cope with things differently.”
As for what Abby thought, the LA Times reported her saying, “I still think about him every single day and I hate that my life is centered around it. But I would just want him to know all of my accomplishments and I would want him to feel bad for missing out on my whole life, you know?”
According to Goffard, Meehan met ex-wife Sells when he was 31 years old, though he claimed to be 26. Sells was 25 years old at the time. The two married in 1990 and went on to have two kids. Cosmopolitan reported that the former couple was together for 10 years before Meehan asked for a divorce. Sells then reportedly began uncovering secrets and drugs. She involved the police and Meehan’s mother and that’s when the threats began.
Today, Tonia Sells lives in Ohio and appears to have moved on quite well from her marriage to Meehan. His daughters have as well. They are even friends with Debra Newell’s daughter, Terra Newell, who killed John in self-defense after he attacked her in a parking lot, according to Cosmo.