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John Meehan tormented up to 50 victims until Terra Newell fought back: Evil Lives Here investigates

Mugshot of John Meehan
John Meehan finally met his match in Terra Newell when she stabbed him to death after he attacked her. Pic credit: Michigan Dept of Corrections

Evil Lives Here is back on ID with another case, this time it involves John Meehan aka Dirty John, who tormented various women over three decades before he was finally killed by the daughter of one of his victims.

On August 20, 2016, Terra Newell was attacked by John Meehan, stalking her mother, Debra Newell, for over a year. Terra was able to kill Meehan in self-defense.

Debra Newell began dating Meehan in October 2014. She found him to be handsome, charismatic, accomplished, and seemed genuinely interested in her. After four failed marriages, she thought, just maybe, he might be the guy for her.

Unfortunately, over the following months, Meehan slowly revealed himself to be a pathological liar and a conman with a criminal past and a bad temper. He also showed himself to be a chronic manipulator and abuser.

Meehan posed as a doctor, an anesthesiologist; he said he’d worked in war-torn Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. The problem was it was all a lie. He lied to Debra about everything, even the stuff which made little sense to lie about. For example, he told her he had one dead sister when, in fact, he had two, very much, alive ones.

Within a couple of months of meeting, the pair had gotten married in Las Vegas, and Meehan had moved in. Debra’s daughters noticed the red flags with Meehan and argued with their mother over the relationship.

When Debra finally uncovered the scale of his lying, she demanded a divorce. However, Meehan wouldn’t let her go easily. He stalked her for months, and on one occasion, he even set fire to her car.

Meehan then decided to go after Debra’s children. He attacked Terra Newell in the parking lot of her apartment complex, but thankfully she fought back hard. She turned the tables on Meehan and stabbed him thirteen times, thereby finally ending his campaign of terror.

John Meehan terrorized up to 50 women

Detectives subsequently learned of at least fifty victims that had been subjected to extortion, stalking, and abuse by Meehan. He had previously been arrested in 2013 when the cops discovered him with a stash of cyanide pills, ammo, and zip ties. He was released from prison in 2014 and met Debra just two days later.

Meehan had been married before to Tonia Sells from 1990 to 2000 but split when Sells discovered the extent of his lying. She also learned that he was a closet drug addict. He subsequently spent time in jail after he was caught stealing drugs from work and resisting arrest.

Sells and her daughter lived in fear that he would one day return to exact his twisted revenge. Happily, they can now live without fear of John Meehan.

The case was also turned into a TV series on Bravo named Dirty John, which starred Connie Britton as Debra Newell and Eric Bana as Meehan. Now, Evil Lives Here tackles the case.

More from Evil Lives Here

Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on Evil Lives Here.

Timothy Spencer, aka The Southside Slayer, embarked on a crime spree in the 1980s when he raped and murdered at least five women in Arlington County, Virginia. He is known as the first killer charged and convicted using DNA evidence.

In another very unsettling case, Judith Hawkey coerced her 10-year-old stepson, Corey Breininger, into shooting his father. Hawkey wanted to make it look like an accident so she could claim life insurance worth $500,000.

Evil Lives Here airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.


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