‘Dirty John’ victim Debra Newell recalls daughter screaming she had killed con man: ‘The guilt overwhelmed me’

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When Debra Newell first noticed John Meehan on a relationship web site in 2014, she was immediately smitten — however the mom of 4 couldn’t have predicted that her whirlwind romance would shortly unravel right into a horrifying nightmare.

Newell’s case of affection gone incorrect is the topic of an upcoming Oxygen documentary titled “Soiled John: The Soiled Reality.” It options interviews with detectives who labored on the case, a few of Meehan’s former girlfriends and even his first spouse, Tonia Bales.

The surprising story was the topic of a smashing podcast in 2017 – from Wondery and the Los Angeles Instances – and, extra lately, in late 2018, Bravo premiered “Soiled John,” a scripted sequence with Connie Britton within the starring position.

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Eric Bana as John Meehan, Connie Britton as Debra Newell in Bravo’s “Soiled John.” — Getty

“I felt that the rationale I participated in all of it, not simply the Oxygen particular, was to get consciousness on the market for different ladies,” Newell advised Fox Information.

Newell, who was 4 occasions divorced, met Meehan on an over-50 relationship web site. Meehan posed as an anesthesiologist who’d simply returned to Southern California after a yr in war-torn Iraq whereas volunteering with Medical doctors With out Borders.

Newell, a rich and profitable inside designer prepared for love, was impressed by what she learn and noticed.

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“What drew me into John was primary his love for animals,” defined Newell. “That he cherished youngsters. He … was good trying in my eyes. He was a physician. Mainly, he checked all of the packing containers for me.”

After two months of relationship, the couple obtained married.

Debra Newell and John Meehan. — Oxygen

Debra Newell and John Meehan. — Oxygen

“John was extraordinarily persistent,” mentioned Newell. “Day by day, he was saying, ‘Please, please, please marry me. You might be my soulmate. You’re the individual that I need to stay the remainder of my life with. We’re getting older. Let’s simply do it.’ I used to be nervous, apprehensive about doing it, however I did.”

Whereas Newell mentioned she felt herself shortly falling in love with the charismatic physician, her 4 youngsters weren’t impressed. The truth is, considered one of her daughters employed a personal investigator to verify her fears. It turned out Meehan by no means labored for Medical doctors With out Borders and by no means even attended medical faculty.

What Meehan did had was a felony rap sheet which unveiled he served time for stealing narcotics in hospitals. The Los Angeles Instances reported that from 2005 to 2014, he had “seduced, swindled and terrorized a number of ladies, lots of whom he had met on relationship websites whereas posing as a physician.” Newell mentioned the report made by the non-public investigator was about 324 pages.

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The newspaper added that by the point Meehan married Newell in December 2014, three ladies had standing restraining orders towards him. At the very least three others had requested them. Meehan had additionally advised Newell considered one of his sisters had died of most cancers. Nevertheless, each of his siblings have been alive and effectively.

John Meehan

“I believe that I jumped with my coronary heart as a substitute of my head, and I ignored the flags,” Newell admitted. “They have been in entrance of me, however I refused to actually have a look at them. I used to be simply falling in love. … I wasn’t pleased with how he was treating my youngsters. However I wasn’t seeing plenty of it as a result of how he would deal with them once I wasn’t round was very totally different once I was round … he didn’t make an effort to get to know my household, get to know my pals. He simply needed to be with me, and I assumed that was one of many greatest indicators.”

Newell mentioned she thought then of her sister, Cindi Vickers. Oxygen shared that in 1984, Vickers’ husband Billy got here up behind her, positioned a pistol to the again of her neck and shot her to demise. After pulling the set off, Billy then shot himself within the abdomen. He would survive the gunshot and later remarried.

Newell instantly needed to finish the wedding, despite the fact that Meehan stored insisting he was harmless of the allegations. They reconciled briefly, however finally, she realized she could not spend the remainder of her life with a manipulative con artist. Newell filed to annul the wedding to Meehan in April 2016. She additionally went into hiding.

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“I gave John an opportunity. I additionally had one foot in, and one foot out. I actually wanted to investigate and determine this all out alone,” she recalled.

Debra Newell said she failed to see the red flags early on.

Debra Newell mentioned she didn’t see the pink flags early on.
(Oxygen)

“Once I left I had an exit plan since you don’t stroll away from these males with out one thing violent occurring,” mentioned Newell. “I had one other cellphone. I had modified all my passwords. I modified emails. I had transferred cash. I had talked to my workplace that I used to be going to be gone so they may come up with me remotely. There have been many, many issues I did to arrange myself to depart in order that I may go into hiding.”

Folks journal reported Meehan filed for divorce himself, demanding half of Newell’s earnings and possession in her enterprise. He additionally reportedly lit her Tesla on hearth, emailed nude pictures of her to her household and commenced to stalk her.

“I assumed he was after me for my cash, so I didn’t really feel that my youngsters ought to be in concern,” mentioned Newell. “We thought it was me, and so I’d been hiding for seven months at this level.”

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Then on Aug. 20, 2016, Meehan waited exterior of her youngest daughter Terra’s condominium and attacked her. An injured Terra, who was impressed by strikes she noticed on “The Strolling Useless,” managed to battle Meehan off her. She kicked the knife from his hand, grabbed the weapon and stabbed him a number of occasions.

“She was right-handed. She didn’t assume,” reported the Los Angeles Instances. “She started flailing, in search of targets. She related, time and again. His shoulder. His shoulder blade. His triceps. His shoulder blade. His higher again. His shoulder blade. His higher again. Between his shoulder blades. His forearm. His triceps. His shoulder. His chest. His left eye — and thru it — into his mind.”

Debra Newell and her daughter Terra.

Debra Newell and her daughter Terra.
(Oxygen)

Newell would obtain a cellphone name from a distraught Terra.

“I get this name from my daughter, and she or he’s screaming that she killed my husband,” mentioned Newell. “It was so surreal. The guilt and simply all the pieces overwhelmed me. … I don’t know the way I obtained there, however I obtained to the location … She was sitting on the curb. I simply needed to be along with her.”

Meehan died within the hospital 4 days later. Newell mentioned she and Meehan have been separated on the time. She claimed their annulment was going to be ultimate on September 13.

The then-25-year-old was by no means charged for Meehan’s demise as a result of it was decided she fought again in self-defense. Newell additionally shared Terra was despatched away for about six months to Austin, Texas the place she acquired in depth remedy for PTSD. However earlier than then, Newell reached out to Meehan’s sisters to inform them of their brother’s destiny.

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“When all the pieces occurred we really known as John’s sisters,” mentioned Newell. “They talked about the truth that that they had been in concern, and that they have been OK with what Terra had performed. … The ladies had aid. They have been many, many different victims on the market that have been rapidly now not in concern as a result of John was gone.”

Arlane Hart, Debra Newell and Terra Newell attend the after party for Bravo's anthology series "Dirty John" world premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Arlane Hart, Debra Newell and Terra Newell attend the after occasion for Bravo’s anthology sequence “Soiled John” world premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
(Getty)

Newell mentioned she hasn’t dated since. Today, she’s hoping her story will educate others on how simply one could be tangled in a terrifying state of affairs if these obvious pink flags are ignored.

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“I hope folks perceive that it will probably occur to anybody,” mentioned Newell. “There are numerous, many individuals on the market which are going by means of what I went by means of, possibly another way. However they don’t seem to be alone.”

John Meehan — Oxygen

“Soiled John: The Soiled Reality” airs Jan. 14 at eight p.m. on Oxygen.

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