Dirty John: What happened to Terra Newell after John Meehan’s death?

Tijen Butler February 19, 2019
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The real 'Dirty John', John Meehan, and Terra Newell

The real 'Dirty John', John Meehan, and Terra Newell. ( CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS/Getty Images)

Conman John Meehan stalked and brutally attacked his step-daughter, Terra Newell, forcing her to defend herself by stabbing him a total of 13 times.

Netflix’s Dirty John has given us insight into the real-life crime story behind John Meehan when he targeted and married a wealthy interior designer, Debra Newell, as part of his last con, posing as a successful doctor.

Dirty John, created by Alexandra Cunningham, brings to life the true first-hand accounts from the 2017 Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name.

How did Jacquelyn and Terra Newell feel about John Meehan?

Debra Newell had two daughters, Jacquelyn (renamed Veronica for the series, played by Juno Temple) and Terra (played by Julia Garner), who immediately noticed something off and creepy about their mother’s new love.

The daughters were against their mother’s relationship with John from the start. They found him rude and had suspicions that he was after nothing more than money, prompting them to talk to their cousin who also investigated his past.

 Eric Bana, Connie Britton, Debra Newell, Juno Temple and Terra Newell
Eric Bana, Connie Britton, Debra Newell, Juno Temple and Terra Newell attend the after party for Bravo’s anthology series “Dirty John” world premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on November 13, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Rich Fury/Getty)

After a series of strange behaviour and John’s dark past surfacing, the family soon knew that he was a man worth avoiding.

Discovering the extent of his criminal past, Debra finally left John in 2016.

The furious conman retaliated with abusive messages, stalking, threats of revenge porn and stealing Debra’s car and setting it on fire.

But then one evening, he took it a step further by targeting one of Debra’s daughters.

John Meehan attacked his step-daughter Terra Newell in a violent rage

One evening as he sat in his car, John Meehan had his eyes set on Terra Newell as she went out.

In his vehicle, he had a ‘kidnap kit,’ which included duct tape, kitchen ties, a vial of injectable drugs and a set of kitchen knives.

He pulled up behind the young woman, surprising Terra as he got out the car and grabbed her, taking a knife out his bag.

In a violent rage, John slashed her arms with the weapon.

“I just started stabbing him.”

— Terra Newell

“He was trying to push me into his car and I tried to get away from him,” Terra told Dateline, recalling the attack. “I was screaming. As he put his hand over my mouth I bit down as hard as I could.”

In a struggle, the pair fell to the ground and Terra kicked the knife from John’s grasp. She quickly grabbed it to defend herself.

“I just started stabbing him,” she continued. “I thought if he got back up he’s going to kill me.”

Real John Meehan portrayed in Netflix Dirty John

Terra stabbed John 13 times, wounding his shoulder, arm, back, chest—and once in his left eye through to his brain.

Police soon arrived and Terra was treated by paramedics and taken to a hospital.

Meanwhile, the stalker was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana where he was put on life support.

After four days, his life support machine was turned off due to the severity of his brain injuries.

He died in hospital, on August 24, 2016, aged 57. He received no funeral.

What happened to Terra Newell after John Meehan died?

Terra Newell was not arrested for John Meehan’s death and she went on to take important steps to recover from the traumatic ordeal.

She underwent therapy and quit her job at a dog kennel because she found the sound of dogs barking too triggering.

Watch an interview with Terra Newell below: 

While her sister Jacquelyn prefers to stay private, Terra is now in the public eye and is open to talking about the ordeal.

What is Terra Newell doing now?

Terra Newell is now 27 years old, living in Orange County, California, and Henderson, Nevada.

She has a website where she discusses her interests such as travel, music, hiking, dogs, zombies and fashion.

It’s also a place where she discusses PTSD, which she has been suffering from since the incident.

What’s more, she appears to be moving on with her life and can be seen smiling across her social media.


View this post on Instagram


Missing some of my favorites today…. @ematyourcervix @abigail_meehan 3 days together was not enough! Also a special thanks to @unistudios for getting them Universal express day passes! #universalstudioshollywood #universalstudios #minions #christmastime #dirtyjohn #dirtyjohnbravo #dirtygirls #thedirtydaughters #nike #euninajeans #urbanoutfitters #redfoxgoodclothes #ivieyewear #chloe ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• What I’m wearing….. Sunglasses: @ivivision at The Red Fox in Corona Del Mar, California. @redfoxgoodclothes Bodysuit: @urbanoutfitters Jeans: @euninajeans Shoes: @nike @nikewomen Purse: @chloe

A post shared by Terra Newell (@terranewell) on

Terra has even befriended her attacker’s two daughters, Emily and Abigail Meehan, with whom she has posed in pictures with on her Instagram.

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