Dirty John - The Terrifying Truth


*Warning. This article contains spoilers of the mini-television series Dirty John*


Debra Newall (Connie Britton), a beautiful and successful interior designer, seems to have the perfect life. The only thing missing is love, but that changes when she meets the charming and handsome Dr. John Meehan (Eric Bana). Their relationship is a whirlwind from the beginning, and after two short months the couple ties the knot in Las Vegas. Displeased with their fast-paced relationship, Terra and Veronica, Debra’s daughters, set out to investigate John, convinced that he is a connman. As the series unfolds, Debra is drawn deeper and deeper into John’s web of lies, and the psychological manipulation has repercussions for the whole family. This eye catching mini-television series, Dirty John, was recently released in late November of 2018 on Bravo.


(Courtesy of Jordin Althaus)


What makes this show so riveting, is the fact that it is based off of a true story. John Meehan married Debra Newall in 2014, and thus began a two year psychological game of cat and mouse. Meehan was a conman and sociopath who deceived, robbed, and terrorized numerous women for two decades. Majority of these women filed complaints, lawsuits, and restraining orders, all of which he dismissed to as jealous ex’s or bad breakups.


(Courtesy of the LA Times)


Newall grew more and more suspicious of John and eventually hired a private detective that confirmed her fears. He was not an anesthesiologist, he never went to medical school, and he had a felony rap sheet. Fearing for her life, Newall went into hiding, which made John turn violent. Not only did he file for divorce, he demanded half of her income, and ownership of her business, he also lit her Tesla on fire, emailed nude images of her, and began stalking her and her family.


(Courtesy of People Magazine)


On August 20, 2016, Meehan waited outside of Terra’s apartment and attacked her with a knife. After sustaining a few stab wounds, Terra was able to kick the knife out of his hands and repeatedly stabbed him in the back, the forehead, and the eye. John Meehan died four days later in the Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana.


Newall decided to go public with her story after Los Angeles Times reported, Christopher Goffard, reached out in order to help other woman become aware of predators like John Meehan and avoid situations like this in the future. A true-crime podcast was released in October of 2018, and a documentary, Diry John - The Dirty Truth, aired on January 14, 2019.  


This begs the question: how well do you really know your significant other?