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The True Story That Inspired Dirty John Is Even Scarier Than the Show

The True Story That Inspired Dirty John Is Even Scarier Than the Show
The True Story That Inspired Dirty John Is Even Scarier Than the Show
  • Dirty John originally aired on Bravo in 2018 and is now accessible to stream on Netflix.
  • Based on a real story, Dirty John explores how con-man John Meehan preyed on Debra Newell and her family.
  • Based on a real story, Dirty John explores how con-man John Meehan preyed on Debra Newell and her family.

When 59-year-old Debra Newell first met John Meehan in October 2014, she thought she found “the One.” Or, if not “the One,” then at the least a pleasant man to make up for the string of online dates and 4 failed marriages that got here Before him.

The proprietor of a successful inside design business and the mom of 4 children, Debra had everything—except romantic love. So possibly that is why Debra missed Meehan’s barely unusual behavior, like showing up for his or her formal date inexplicably sporting hospital scrubs, or saying all his garments had been stolen.

Or possibly she missed Meehan’s strangeness as a result of, after years of conning, Meehan was an expert at making folks do exactly that. Meehan had a history of manipulating and abusing girls, with a felony track record to indicate for it. Unwittingly, Debra Newell and her family were Meehan’s newest goal.

Dirty John, which originally aired on Bravo in November 2018, tells the story of how the Newells turned Meehan’s final goal, too. The eight-episode Show is tailored from Christopher Goffard’s wonderful reporting on Meehan’s life and mysterious demise in Newport Seashore, CA for the L. A. Times in 2017, unfurled in a series of six articles and an accompanying popular podcast, Dirty John.

As of November 25, 2019, this harrowing true story—wrapped up in the good looks and good lighting of prime-time TV—is obtainable to stream on Netflix. Eric Bana performs the final word swindler, John Meehan. Connie Britton is Debra, trusting and susceptible. Debra’s daughters, Juno Temple and Julia Garner, play two younger girls who attempt to save their mom from her own decisions.

Finally, Dirty John is a personality research in evil. Evil is a giant phrase—but when people who knew him discuss Meehan, that is the phrase they attain for. When Meehan first walked into lawyer John Dzialo’s Santa Ana workplace, Dzialo was struck by a thought. “‘I’m sitting here in the presence of evil incarnate,'” Dzialo recalled pondering in the Dirty John podcast. You already know that people like him actually do exist and one has just come into your orbit. Scariest man I’ve met in my 70 years.”

Before watching Dirty John, here is a basic rundown of what you’ll want to know.

In October 2014, Debra Newell and John Meehan met through a dating app.

It is attainable to learn Dirty John as a horror story about online dating. Newell first Meehan through a dating app for older singles. She was immediately charmed by The man sitting during from her at dinner. Newell was Inspired by his profession as an anesthesiologist and his time serving in Doctors With out Borders in Iraq. “He was the full bundle. A doctor. Very clever. A family man,” Newell recalled on Megyn Kelly At the moment. She elaborated on Fox5. “He tended to have everything on my checklist that I was looking for.”

“He tended to have everything on my checklist that I was looking for.”

Newell fell in love, and she or he and Meehan went full-steam-ahead on their new relationship. 5 weeks in, they moved into a ravishing, $6,500 a month home on Balboa Island. Two months in, they eloped in Las Vegas. No company attended the marriage, and no prenuptial was signed to guard Newell’s sizable assets.

“He kept saying, ‘I can’t wait to be married to you,’ and just, ‘I’m so in love with you,’ and so forth. I felt that this was a possibility to like once more,” Newell stated on the Dirty John podcast.

Over the course of their courtship, Newell remoted herself from her daughters. They noticed one thing in Meehan that Newell did not: Menace.

Newell’s daughters were less charmed by Meehan.

Jacquelyn (known as Veronica and performed by Juno Temple in Dirty John) and Terra Newell (Julia Garner), two of Newell’s three daughters, were distracted by questions on their mom’s new love curiosity. If John was a physician, why were his fingernails so Dirty? Why did he look so raveled? Why was cash disappearing from Debra’s wallet? Why couldn’t John ever give a straight reply to questions on his life?

“He was just very standoffish. We’d ask him questions [and] he would wish to give us a one-worded reply,” Terra stated during an look on Megyn Kelly At the moment. “He did not wish to look us in the eyes and he his social skills were just sort of off with me and my sister.”

On the time, 23-year-old Terra was residing outdoors Las Vegas with her then-boyfriend, and 24-year-old Jacquelyn was residing with her mom in California.

“I instructed my mother she’d higher get this creep out of the home or I don’t plan on residing with her,” Jacquelyn stated on the Dirty John podcast. As a substitute, Newell and Meehan solely turned nearer. They moved in together.

Terra and Jacquelyn later appeared into Meehan by hiring a private investigator. In addition they concerned their cousin, Shad (known as Toby and performed by Kevin Zegers in the Show).

By March 2015, 4 months after their wedding, Debra would come to be taught what her daughters already knew: Meehan was harmful. By then, though, the chain of Times depicted in Dirty John had already gotten began.

Debra was already remoted from her family and locked in a harmful on-again, off-again relationship with Meehan that might culminate in emotional manipulation, a destroyed automobile, and an try on a member of the family’s life, amongst many Other grievous twists.

Meehan had a long history of deceitful behavior.

Based on Meehan’s sisters, who spoke to Goffard, Meehan was taught the artwork of the grift by his father, William. At a younger age, Meehan acquired his father’s skills, like pulling off insurance coverage scams and submitting bogus lawsuits.

John was a hustler,” Meehan’s sister, Karen Douvillier, instructed the L.A. Times. “No matter he needed to do to get cash, he would do.”

Finally, Meehan was busted for selling cocaine and forced to leave California as a part of a plea deal.

That is how he ended up on the University of Arizona, after which the University of Dayton legislation University, the place his classmates christened him with the nickname “Dirty John.” It caught. Actually, in keeping with video footage Goffard found, the nickname was even talked about during a toast at his wedding—his first wedding.

Meehan served time in prison.

The story begins when Meehan met his first spouse, Tonia Sells (Sprague Grayden), a working against nurse anesthetist, in 2000. She helped him grow to be a nurse anesthetist, too.

After 12 years as a pair and two children together, Meehan abruptly filed for divorce. Sells was spurred to search for evidence of why he would depart so abruptly. “[I didn’t start investigating his past] till the tip — till he requested me for a divorce and I was like, ‘One thing’s not right here,’” Sells stated in an interview with Further.

Sells contacted his family and rooted through their Ohio dwelling. To her shock, she found bins of the surgical anesthetics Versed and Fentanyl, which she believed Meehan was stealing and utilizing.

She contacted the police with her findings. though Meehan misplaced his job, he was nonetheless allowed to work at Other hospitals, the place he induced further bother: Meehan reportedly introduced a gun into an working room. He also ceaselessly harassed and threatened his ex-wife till she took him to court, the place he was convicted of menacing behavior and acquired a suspended sentence.

Meanwhile, Promote’s police report started an 18-month investigation that might culminate in his conviction (Dirty John depicts the significantly dramatic arrest). In 2002, Meehan pled responsible to drug theft fees. He served 17 months in a Michigan prison.

After being launched from prison in 2004, Meehan moved in along with his sister, Donna, in California.

Debra Newell was not Meehan’s first victim from a dating site.

Based on Donna, Meehan spent his first night out of prison on “She knew what it meant. He was looking for victims,” Goffard wrote in the L.A. Times. Which brings us to Debra, 9 years later, poking across the web for information about her new husband.

What she found shocked her. Meehan’s identify was listed on, a site the place girls share information on probably harmful males, together with chilling feedback, like “Don’t let this man into your life,” and “Do not be fooled by his charming persona.”

Goffard provides the complete particulars in his 2018 book Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders.

“From 2005 to 2014—from in regards to the time he bought out of prison in Michigan for drug theft to the time he met Debra Newell in California—he had seduced, swindled and terrorized a number of girls, a lot of whom he had met on dating sites whereas posing as a physician, court information confirmed. By the point they married in December 2014, three separate girls round Southern California had standing restraining orders against him; in recent times, at the least three others had requested them,” Goffard wrote.

How did John Meehan die?

Dennis Luken, an investigator for the Warren County Sheriff’s Workplace in Ohio who started trying into Meehan in 2002, correctly predicted how the story would finish. “I knew this case was going to go on till both anyone killed him or he killed anyone,” Luken instructed the L.A. Times.

As Luken suspected, Goffard’s podcast begins with the studying of an post-mortem report. How did Meehan end up dead of 13 stab wounds in 2016?

As Dirty John exhibits in its graphic finale, Terra Newell, then 25, killed Meehan after he intentionally attacked her in a parking zone with a knife. On the time, Meehan was estranged from Newell and residing in Nevada. He drove to California with the the intent to assault Newell’s youngest daughter.

The man grabbed me from my waist and stated, ‘Do you remember me?’ I did and knew he was there to kill me,” Terra wrote in a first-person essay for

Terra credit her years spent binge-watching The Strolling dead with her life. As soon as she bought ahold of Meehan’s knife, Terra went after him just like the characters in The Strolling dead go after zombies. “A stab to the top or a shot to the top and then you definitely kill a zombie,” she stated in the podcast. “You want to kill their mind.”

She started to stab him repeatedly. “The final one was in the eye. So, I assume that was my zombie kill,” she added.

The creators of Dirty John took pains to recreate the violent scene. “[The real] Terra spoke to the stunt coordinator and gave actually good element,” Eric Bana defined to Refinery29. “She was in a position to Show some actually particular marks of what occurred.”

Watch all eight episodes of Dirty John on Netflix for all the opposite wild twists you could not predict.

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