Terrified, She Left. So He Went After Her Daughter

But Terra Newell fought back against John Meehan
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2017 9:13 AM CDT
How the Story Ends: 'Dirty John' Goes 'to Hell'
The conclusion of the 'Dirty John' series.   (Los Angeles Times)

Someone always gets it in the end, and in the case of John Meehan—or "Dirty John," the nickname that doubled as the title for the Los Angeles Times' six-part series on the con man—it was him. He had had something else in mind, though. Some 16 months after their Las Vegas wedding, Debra Newell had filed for an annulment, and Meehan's true colors came out: He demanded money, posted naked photos of her online, and threatened her and her family. Newell had been reassured by a psychologist that Meehan wouldn't actually come after her girls, but that psychologist was wrong. As Newell's 25-year-old daughter Terra left work and drove home to her apartment in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 20, 2016, Meehan was waiting in her lot in a rental car containing what police called a "kidnap kit."

She exited her car, and Meehan grabbed her, knife in hand. She fought back, and the two fell to the ground. With her rainboots she managed to kick the weapon from his hand and grab it. She stabbed him 13 times, ending with a "zombie kill." A lover of The Walking Dead TV show, Terra had learned the only way to beat an undead opponent was to "kill their brain. That's what I did" by way of a plunge through the left eye. Meehan was brain dead. Newell didn't want to be the one to make the call to pull the plug; she asked his sister, a nurse, to do so, and four days later, it was done. "The last person on Earth I’d ever think would send John to hell would be Terra," says Newell's nephew. Meehan's sister brought Terra flowers and said she "did a good thing." Christopher Goffard ends with more revelations: secrets Newell uncovered after Meehan's death. Read the last part here. (More Longform stories.)

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