When Debra Newell met a man named John Meehan online, she fell into the trap of many – ignoring the red flags and diving into a “too good to be true” relationship. Today, Newell and Meehan’s lives have become the focus of Bravo’s hit mini-series Dirty John. But, before we get into the details about the show, as well as the real life of John Meehan, keep in mind that MAJOR SPOILERS on the series will be revealed. So, if you do NOT want to know how Dirty John ends, STOP READING NOW.
For anyone who has done research on the real people who are depicted on Dirty John, they probably know how the mini-series ends. Meehan physically attacks Newell’s daughter, Terra, with a knife and he ends up losing his life as the result.
On August 20, 2016, Meehan was waiting outside the apartment of Newell’s daughter, Terra, and attacked her in the parking lot when she was with her dog, Cash. Romper reported that Meehan had been waiting for Terra to get home from work when the incident occurred. Bustle reported that Meehan was equipped with a “backpack, duct tape, cable ties, injectable testosterone, kitchen knives, and a passport — what police call a “kidnap kit” when he confronted Terra.
After Terra arrived with her pet pooch, Meehan attacked her with a knife, but she fought back and won, stabbing him in the chest, head and eye. She reportedly stabbed Meehan thirteen times, with his eye being the final cut. Meehan died four days after the stabbing, at the age of 57.
The attack on Terra occurred five months after Newell first left Meehan. When Meehan was stabbing her, Terra recalled on Today, “It felt like I was getting punched over and over again. I put my arm up with my purse above my heart and I tried to get away from him and I was screaming. He put his hand over my mouth and I bit as hard as I could.” Terra said that she kicked the knife out of Meehan’s hand, picked it up off the ground and started stabbing him without a second thought. According to Esquire, Terra maintained, “I thought it’s him or me, and then also the last [stab] was through the head.”
Debra Newell told Forbes that she had no idea Meehan would go after one of her children. Newell said, “He had a lot to gain if I died. We were married so he’d inherit money, go for half my business. It just didn’t make sense to kill my child and end up in prison.” But, apparently, Meehan had mob ties to the Albert Anastasia family, as reported by Forbes.
Meehan’s date of death was August 24, 2016, at the Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, California.
As for Debra Newell today, she is staying away from online dating. Newell told Forbes, “I’m not open right now but if or when I do date again, I’ll do it very differently. And, one thing is certain, I’ll never go online again!”