Dirty John, The Dirty Truth (2019) Movie Script

- [Operator] Newport Beach 911.
- [Woman] I need a ambulance
right away,
someone's been stabbed.
- It's a girl.
- Do you see blood?
- Yes.
I felt like I caused this.
This is the last thing
I ever wanted to happen.
[dramatic music]
I'm a reporter
for the Los Angeles Times.
I wrote the series
"Dirty John" and the podcast.
There are life-and-death
stakes in this story.
I met John online.
He made me feel wonderful.
It was the best feeling
in the world.
His profile said
that he was single, a doctor.
Everything you want to see
in a man.
-John was very attractive.
Very, very charming.
Many women were terrorized.
John Meehan
was a serial predator.
He went from victim to victim.
Took what he could
and found a new one.
[young lady]
I knew he was trying
to hurt my mom,
hurt my family.
I hated John.
He broke me in half.
I was a good person.
Hi, Mom!
He's going to turn on you
and destroy your life.
John is the most dangerous,
devious individual
that I ever
- We arrested him,
and inside the backpack
he had a revolver,
hundreds of rounds of ammo.
I knew that John
was capable of murder.
- One of the lessons
of this story
is that monsters don't always
look like monsters.
[woman screams]
[mellow music]
- In 2014, I was single,
having a good time.
Successful, full life...
with family, friends,
and work.
I'm a interior designer.
I've been doing it 35 years.
I love what I do...
and I felt like I had
this one thing missing...
and it was love.
I realized I just wanted
to be loved.
I think the older you get...
there are less available men
that are healthy
and happy and successful.
I met John online.
One thing about John's profile
that I recall
is that everything
I was looking for in a man
seemed to be
in his profile.
I wanted a man
that went to church,
someone that was
into his family,
successful, intelligent.
I'm looking at this thinking,
"John's a great catch.
"He's a doctor, he's...
seemed so genuine."
[man] What Debra Newell
didn't know was that
John Meehan
was a serial predator.
He went from victim to victim,
took what he could,
and found a new one.
He would terrorize them.
[suspenseful music]
I haven't had
the best luck...
in the love department.
I am very protective
of my mom in general.
The guys that she was
married to before
took complete advantage of her.
Debra Newell had
had a bad break-up
with a prior boyfriend,
she was feeling vulnerable.
And John seemed like
the complete package.
Monsters don't always look
like monsters.
He looked like a doctor
out of casting central,
so if you're going
to impersonate a doctor
it helps to look
like you belong on the cast
of "Grey's Anatomy."
That's one of the reasons
he was so dangerous.
- Our first date,
John talked about
all his success,
his family.
A very, very charming...
intelligent man.
He asked me a lot of questions
about my life.
It was almost surreal.
I'm thinking, "Hmm,
I really like this guy."
We ended up walking back
to my home.
He went straight to my bedroom
and laid on my bed.
I just looked at him
and I said, "Oh, no.
You need to leave."
And I said,
"That's not who I am."
He was very persistent.
Kept saying, "Just let me
lay here a little bit longer."
Well, I was
quite disappointed.
The next day
John calls me,
asks for my forgiveness.
I forgave him.
Said, "Let's start over,"
uh, "let's go on
another date."
The first few weeks of dating
were fantastic.
He was doing everything right.
He would always hold my hand,
and we would walk and talk,
sometimes for hours.
He would tell me
how beautiful I was,
I'm his soul mate.
I enjoyed being romanced.
It was a little bit
of a whirlwind,
where he had pulled me in
to where I couldn't
go backwards.
I was so convinced
that John was the real thing.
The way he treated me,
the way he looked
in my eyes,
the way he listened.
- My mom seemed very happy,
but I wanted her to look out
for the red flags.
And it was all happening
so fast.
My sister had suspicions
way before I did.
- During the reporting
of the story I, uh, reached out
to, uh, Debra's daughter,
who was initially hesitant
to talk to me.
She was a very private person.
- When I first met John Meehan,
his scrubs were torn.
I thought that he was a fake.
I just had a very bad feeling
about him.
I think my kids are
very protective of me.
That I see the best
in everyone.
- We're a very close family,
we're all looking out
after each other.
- John and I started dating
the beginning of October...
and by the end of November
he had basically
moved in with me.
I had found this perfect home
in Balboa
thinking this would be
a good start.
I had fallen in love with John
and I wanted to get
to know him.
He never talked about
his family.
That's what was really odd.
[Goffard] John grew up
in the San Jose area,
and most of what I know
about that period of his life
I learned from his sisters.
John had a father
who romanticized
the gangster lifestyle
and the gangster ethos
and brought John up to believe
that if someone crossed you,
you went after them
twice as hard.
If they wronged you,
you broke their legs.
[children laughing]
- John told me that
his whole family was dead,
so he was all alone
except for his kids.
- John Meehan lied constantly
about his family.
He did have, uh, two sisters
who are alive in California,
and he had turned on them
in the way that he eventually
turned on everybody.
He was a good athlete.
He played basketball
in high school.
Good-looking, charming,
and learned
at a very young age
to be manipulative.
That seemed to be his shortcut
to getting his way in life.
[man] I was John Meehan's
best friend
from 1974...
to 1985.
John was pretty studious,
very smart.
Always had books in his hand,
along with a basketball.
John never invited me over
to his house.
We didn't talk about
his family that much.
[Goffard] His father
and mother had a bad break-up
when John was in high school.
The divorce had
a devastating effect
on the family,
and I think John Meehan
always blamed his mother
for the erosion of the family.
And that was the beginning
of his journey
toward the dark side.
- John just came up to me
and he said,
"We can make so much money
doing this gigolo thing."
We would have sex
with older women,
and we'd make all this money.
Couple hundred bucks a pop.
Back then, that was a lot
of money.
John was always trying
to make a quick buck.
Besides the other women
he was seeing,
he had a steady girlfriend.
- I met John Meehan
when I was 20 years old
working in a bank
in Los Gatos, California.
John told me he was a student
at Stanford and was working
as a surgical tech.
John was very attractive,
very, very charming.
I believe John knew
I was young, naive,
and probably a little gullible.
He would tell me he didn't want
to be away from me,
that he didn't want
to spend time apart.
I was very flattered
by the attention from John.
I just fell in love with him.
- When I was living with John,
he was always in scrubs--
all the time, like 24/7.
He was trying to get into
medical school,
and it was very expensive.
He started to dabble
into drug sales.
Then he started selling
large amounts.
- We'd go to dinner,
his beeper would go off,
we'd leave.
We'd go to the movies,
his beeper would go off,
we'd leave.
- He started getting real big.
He started bragging
about how he was cutting
the coke, and it was like
half the grade it was
when he got it.
He saw green.
It was money, money, money.
All hours of the night
people were coming over.
3:00, 4:00, 5:00
in the morning.
I saw a change in John.
One day John called me up
and he goes, "You think
you can set me up
with my partners
with some coke?"
And it was for three kilos.
You know, and I was dumb.
I was not--I wasn't
the big dealer like him.
And I said,
"Okay, yeah, yeah.
I got some guys."
I went and set it up.
That night the coke
was brought in.
We were partying,
young and dumb,
and the door just came--
a hole through it.
[man] Police!
- They say, "We're ATF.
Hit the floor."
I was scared [bleep].
They put pillow cases
on everybody's head
and they took 'em
to different departments
so no one would know
who the snitch was.
I knew who the snitch was.
I knew it was John.
[Joe Loeffler ]
John and I set up
a coke deal,
and it was for three kilos.
Coke was brought in
and the door just came--
a hole through it.
[man] Police!
The people in the restaurant
were all ATF agents.
the largest bust
in Santa Clara history.
I knew who the snitch was.
I knew it was John.
After that day,
I kept asking John,
"Why did you do it?
Why did you do it?
I'm your best friend.
We hung out."
And he goes,
"I had to do it.
"I got busted with
a half-ounce of coke.
"I wouldn't be able
to go to med school.
"You can't have a felony
on your record.
I had to do this."
And I'm gonna be
going away.
He busted me to get out
of that, plain and simple.
Just to save his own ass.
I hated the guy's guts.
- John Meehan
seemed to have a way
of getting out of trouble.
He seemed to get into a lot
of trouble and find a way
to slither out of it
He was crossing that line
from threats to action.
I think he was restless
in the way that, um...
psychopaths are.
- We had gone to the movies
and his beeper went off,
and we had to leave.
And he dropped me off at home
and was kissing me good night.
Said he didn't want
to leave me, that he wanted
to spend the rest
of the evening with me,
but he had to go to work.
And I never saw him again.
Wondered what I had
done wrong.
Wondered if I wasn't
his type.
Put a lot of it on me.
You know, what did I do?
I feel that John preyed on me
because he knew I had a lot
of insecurities,
a lot of damage
to my self-esteem.
I was practice for John.
He was testing the waters
of his con,
of his game.
He broke my heart.
- Some people called him
a con man,
but actually, John Meehan
was far more than that.
He was a predatory individual.
He didn't form
real relationships
or attachments
or bonds to people.
He just used people.
He ticks many of the boxes
in the psychopathy checklist.
[Goffard] In the early '80s
after John is busted, uh,
for drugs
he leaves for Arizona,
where he goes to college.
When he graduates he goes
to Dayton, Ohio,
for law school.
It was around then that
John Meehan met Tonia Bales.
[Tonia Bales]
I was working as a nurse
in the operating room,
and I was out that night
with a group of coworkers.
I just made my way
to the restroom
and I was stopped by John,
which turned into
a conversation.
His personality was enjoyable
and outgoing
and smiley
and very engaging,
asking a lot of questions.
I did not give him
my phone number that night,
but he knew where I worked,
and so he called
to the operating room
the next night
and had me paged.
I would say that I was naive.
You know, he said
all the right things.
"You're really pretty.
I'd love to get to know you,
and, you know, any chance
we can go out?"
And I was flattered.
I think I fell in love
with John because of his
attentiveness towards me,
and his interest in me,
and how good he made me feel.
After about a year of dating
he pulled me, you know,
close to him and told me
that he wanted to spend
the rest of his life with me.
And he presented me with a--
a gorgeous diamond ring,
and it was fantastic,
and I said yes.
The wedding was your typical
Catholic, Midwest wedding.
There weren't tons of guests,
and part of that
was because John did not
invite his family.
And he told me that his family
would have been
embarrassing to him.
That his dad was an alcoholic.
His parents were divorced,
and he thought his parents
wouldn't get along
at the wedding,
and he didn't want to ruin
our special day.
- John, how do you feel this--
this evening?
- [screams]
No, I--I'm fine.
I'm fine.
- And so, uh, what do you got
planned for the rest
of the evening here?
- Re--rest of the evening, uh,
drink, frivolity, fun,
plundering pillages
near and far.
- Sounds good.
- The wedding video,
I was so excited to watch it
but I noticed
in the reception time
with all the guys,
you know, having had
probably too many drinks,
one of them refers to him
as "Filthy John."
- Let me start by saying this:
John Meehan's nickname
is "Filthy John Meehan."
- Yeah, but why? Why?
- Why?
- Remember when you first
created that nickname and why?
- Yes, I do,
but it cannot be divulged
on camera.
- I don't take showers.
That's the only reason.
[overlapping chatter]
- His--his friends--
his friends call him
- "The Cruiser."
- I did question John
about the "Filthy John" comment
and he said,
"Oh, they're just--they've had
too much to drink."
You know, "They're just
being silly.
It doesn't mean anything."
It wasn't really till after
we were married
several years that--
the wedding ring had
some smaller stones,
and one of the smaller stones
had fallen out, so I took it
into a jeweler
to have that stone replaced.
And the jeweler took the ring
and said,
"You know this isn't real,
And I got, uh...
I pretend--
I said, "Yes."
Yeah, I said yes.
Because that's humiliating.
I never told him that I knew
that it was fake.
I just got caught up
in that, you know,
fall in love as an adult
and having a happy ending.
- I think Tonia had no idea
this kind of person existed.
She came from a, uh--
a nice family,
a good background.
She's a nurse anesthetist.
John follows her
into the profession.
Tonia told me that
she helped support him
as he worked his way
through nursing school.
- I would have told you
that we were happily married.
Um, we were, you know,
busy professionals,
we got along very well,
we very rarely fought
about anything.
John didn't want
to have children right away.
He eventually, you know,
said that he was ready,
and so Emily, uh, was born
when I was 30.
- [John]
Looks like she got hit.
Looks like somebody
punched her in the eye.
[laughter, chatter]
- After Emily was about
14 months,
John was accepted into
a nurse anesthesia program
-in Tennessee.
- Say, "Hi, Mama."
Hi, Mom!
- Oh, it was a tremendously
happy time for me.
- [babbling]
- And then we were
soon planning out next child
to complete our family,
and he seemed excited
about that.
I was very excited about that,
so I was ready
to have another child.
- [baby crying]
- After Abigail was born,
we came to have a talk
after Christmas, um,
and John was saying
that he wasn't happy.
And I said, you know,
"What's wrong?"
You know, "I can change."
He decided that
he wasn't happy in the marriage
and, um, he filed for divorce.
I was devastated.
I married him to be
married to him forever.
- I absolutely feel like
he abandoned my family.
He consciously made
that decision.
- Him leaving really upset me
and I felt really unloved,
and I felt like
I wasn't enough for him.
- While John and I
are having this split,
everybody's saying,
"Something's missing.
Something's missing."
My brother-in-law says,
"You know, maybe you should--
really should find his mom
or his family."
And he found his mom's
phone number on the Internet.
[phone dialing]
With my knees trembling,
I dialed that number
and I called her.
And I said, uh,
"Dolores, this is Tonia.
I'm married to your son, John."
And the phone was silent.
And then she said,
"Oh, Tonia.
I knew you'd call me one day."
And she unloaded on me
that he had been arrested,
that--she asked me
if he's still using drugs
and I said, "What?"
And she said,
"Call his sisters.
They would love
to talk to you."
So I called both
of his sisters.
They laid out a lot of stories
about insurance fraud,
about having a friend,
you know, hit him
with the car on purpose
and he broke his leg and he got
some money for that.
That he had, um,
put some glass intentionally
in his taco at Taco Bell
and filed a suit against that.
That was not congruent
with the man that I married.
So I started snooping.
I found a picture
of a resident
at the hospital circled,
I found directions
to a hotel room
in a female's writing,
and I found--
on the very top shelf
pushed all the way
to the back--a box
of anesthesia drugs--
Fentanyl and Versed.
So at this point I'm married
almost ten years
and I'm realizing
that everything I've lived
up to this point in my marriage
is a lie.
[Tonia] So at this point,
I was married to John
for almost ten years,
and I'm realizing
that everything I've lived
up to this point
in my marriage is a lie.
John had potent
anesthetic drugs.
There was no reason for those
to be there.
I'm a nurse anesthetist--
there's no reason
that you bring home drugs.
I knew that something was wrong,
but I didn't know what it was.
I thought
that he was using drugs,
but I also came to learn
through his family
that he was shipping them
from Ohio to California
for his brother to use.
- So around the same time
that his marriage
to, uh, Tonia is dissolving,
his brother dies in Santa Cruz
of an overdose.
- They call me and say
the brother is dead.
Then basically
I'm saying, "This needs
"to end, right now.
"I can't hold on
to this information.
"I don't know exactly
what he's doing, but I've got
to report this."
That's when, you know, I--
I went to the police and said,
"This is what I know."
[audio playing in reverse]
- The police came
to my house one day
to kind of search my house
and--and look at
where the drugs were
at one point.
And there it was:
his little, you know,
stash of drugs.
And I thought, "We're done.
"We found it.
"This is gonna be over soon.
"You know, he's gonna
get arrested.
"He's killed his brother
or helped, you know,
"kill his brother,
and we're all gonna prove this,
you know, very fast."
That's not exactly how it went.
His career was disintegrating
around that time.
When he began running amok--
he began stealing drugs
and endangering patients--
people were calling
the Medical Board,
he was losing his license.
I think his drug addiction
was accelerating,
and at the end it seemed
to drive him
to increasingly
irrational behavior.
- John moved to the state
of Indiana,
started working there,
and some friends of mine
who were also
nurse anesthetists
warned the Board
that he was there.
This is a period of time
where things got
really scary for me.
John believed that
I was the one making the calls
to the Indiana Board of Nursing
and ruining his career.
- He is making...
very scary phone calls to her
that the police tell her
to get on tape.
[phone line ringing]
[John] I have it on excellent,
excellent authority
you're the one who's been
making the phone calls.
[Tonia] I have never called
the Indiana Board of Nursing.
- I got a big smile
on my face. You know why?
Because it's gonna get done.
- What's gonna get done?
- You will understand
when the time comes.
I'll be in Bermuda having
a big [bleep] Cuba Libre
with a 22-year-old
when it happens.
- That's nice.
- You keep that in mind.
So Tonia, you enjoy
your time left
on this Earth, okay?
Because that's what it's
gonna come down to.
- Everybody knows
it'll be you
and you're not gonna make it
to Bermuda.
- Oh, I'll be in Bermuda,
- Oh, you'll be in Bermuda.
- Yes.
- So where will the kids be?
- Probably with your parents.
- Okay.
- Wondering, "Gosh,
what happened to Mom?"
- During this time,
he's under investigation
and I'm not allowed
to say anything,
and I'm having to turn
my children over to him
knowing that he's using drugs.
And I've got to put 'em
in the back seat of his car
for visitation.
And knowing what I know,
that was one
of the most difficult things
that I've had to do,
but unless you have
a court order
denying someone visitation,
you have to turn
your children over.
- [babbling]
I remember on orientation day,
when we would meet
the teachers, my mom would have
to tell the teacher
and let me know
that if a man comes--
Emily's father--
she is not to leave
under any circumstances.
[harmonica playing]
- I used to think
he was always going
to kidnap me.
I always thought
that he was gonna be out there
and make a big scene
and try to get me.
- The whole time after I went
to the DEA I'm thinking,
"They're investigating him,
they're looking into this.
Something's gonna happen."
It had seemed to me that things
just weren't moving
or going anywhere, um,
until Detective Luken
was put on the case.
When he came in,
I felt things turn.
- The case had kind of
gone cold and I had joined
the Warren County
Drug Task Force.
And my boss asked me
to reopen the case in 2002.
We knew that he was
stealing drugs from patients
to feed his addiction.
He was a pathological liar.
He had no conscience.
He had no remorse,
and that's what made John
so dangerous.
[Tonia] He had a perfect life,
you know, with me.
It--it really broke my heart,
and it--it broke my spirit,
you know,
as a--as a good person
just trying to do
the right thing and--
and have a good life.
And--and so I--I wasn't
necessarily angry.
I was broken.
- John Meehan moved
from state to state,
city to city,
county to county
for decades.
Many women were terrorized.
I think a lot of people
are still probably living
in fear of this guy.
He eventually wound up
in Newport Beach,
where, uh, he met
Debra Newell.
- It was around
Thanksgiving time
and I had moved
to Balboa Island.
I had always wanted to live
on the ocean.
John is moving his items
into my home.
It was moving
way too fast for me,
but he made me feel like--
It was the best feeling
in the world.
- I went to my mom's house
on Balboa.
It was around
Thanksgiving time.
[suspenseful music]
I went into my mom's room
and I just saw his stuff
all in there,
and it seemed like
he was moving in there.
I noticed that there was a box
in the closet.
I quickly shut the door,
because I didn't want him
to see me snoop through
his stuff.
On top of the box it had
a nursing certificate.
He said he was a doctor.
I just didn't appreciate
being lied to.
I then confronted my mom...
saying, "Why are you
moving in with someone
that you've only been
together two months?"
- And I'm like, "Well, Terra,
"you know, this is my life.
You know,
please let me live it."
- He came up behind my mom
and started screaming at me.
- [muffled shouting]
- John said, "Don't talk
to your mom that way."
She said,
"You're not even a doctor
"like you say you are.
I read your degree."
- [muffled shouting]
- John accused me
that I wanted my mom
all to myself
and that I didn't want her
to be happy
and that I was just jealous.
And then I told my mom,
I'm like, "I don't understand
"why you're letting him
talk to me this way.
"I can't stay here.
I just need to go."
And then I packed up my stuff
and got out of there.
[door slams]
- Terra left.
I confronted John,
but he had an answer
for everything.
He said that he didn't lie.
He had his doctorate.
They're basically
the same thing,
but one is under the nurses
and one is under a doctor's.
And he said, "But we both
put people to sleep."
John was so persuasive.
I know I keep saying this,
but he was that good.
I believed him.
- I thought John wanted me
out of there
and he wanted my mom
all to himself.
- My sister called me
and said that she had
a big blow-out fight with John.
I think him showing
so much authority
when he didn't really have
a place to do it
was also upsetting.
John was trying
to exert control
in the situation.
[somber music]
[Debra] This was such
a difficult time
in my life because...
I love my kids...
and I had fallen in love
with John,
so I decided to go
to a therapist.
From John's standpoint--
what he was telling
the therapist--
my kid were spoiled.
That there needed
to be boundaries.
The boundaries consisted...
of not having my kids
attend Thanksgiving
if they were gonna have
this kind of behavior.
I was heartbroken.
I felt like I was being
kicked out of her house.
I stopped talking to my mom
for a while after this.
My mom picked John over me.
- When you're looking
to control someone
you don't want daughters
and sisters
and mothers
and people interfering
in the relationship.
In most of these cases
you see isolation.
They never say,
"I'm done with all this
Romeo and Juliet stuff.
I'm gonna move to stage two:
It--it's a very subtle
and nuanced thing that happens.
[Debra] I was hoping my kids
would come around.
I was still trying
to do anything I could
to reach out to 'em.
I just couldn't understand
why they couldn't be
happy for me.
[Goffard] John Meehan had been
practicing for this role
for a long time.
He was a veteran con man.
He knew what buttons to push.
He knew how
to manipulate Debra.
- He would take my cars out
and run errands for me.
He was getting my dry cleaning,
going to the grocery store,
going to the bank,
you name it.
Anything that I needed done
he was right there to assist.
There were so many things
that just didn't make sense
and that were just bad
about him.
Nothing added up.
If he saw an opportunity
he was going to take it.
- John started telling me
within probably the third date
that he was in love with me
and that I was his soul mate.
And he kept saying, you know,
"I--I want to marry you.
"I wanna grow old with you.
I wanna die in your arms."
And he would do this
several times a day.
[Terra] I knew something
wasn't right.
I was honestly depressed
at that point in my life.
John tore our family apart.
[Debra] I had to go to Vegas.
I was doing a clubhouse
out there.
Design and furniture
and all that.
He didn't like me driving
at dark or--
and I looked at it as,
"Oh, he's so protective."
Not controlling.
And so he would drive me
to the job sites.
He said to me, "Why don't we
just get married?"
And I'm like, "No, no, no,
it's too soon.
"Too soon.
I can't do this yet."
He said,
"Please, please, please."
He kept saying,
"Please, please.
For me.
What do you have to lose?"
There was just this lump...
in my stomach.
And I'm thinking,
"What am I doing?"
We'd only been dating
a few months.
"Why am I doing this?
Oh, everyone's gonna kill me."
John drove me to a lot
of job sites.
One of our trips
I had to go to Vegas, so...
he said to me, "Why don't we
just get married?"
- John Meehan and Debra Newell
went off to Vegas
when she was at a vulnerable
place in her life and...
just about everything
that he said to her
to attract her was a lie.
Debra, will you take John
to be your wedded husband,
to live together
in bonds of marriage?
Will you love him, comfort him,
honor, and keep him
so long as you both shall live?
- Yes.
- Please face each other
and hold hands.
- Only two months
after they meet, uh,
they're in Las Vegas
and they're married.
It was whirlwind situation.
- John, please repeat after me.
- Okay.
- I, John...
- I, John...
- Take Debra...
- Take Debra...
- To be my wedded wife...
- To be my wedded wife...
- I can't explain it,
but I knew it was wrong.
It wasn't the right timing,
but I did it anyway.
Oh, my gosh.
- Aww!
[overlapping chatter]
- I didn't tell any
of my family members.
nobody knew.
- I learned way after the fact
that John married my mom.
Started crying,
bawling my eyes out.
- It was alarming to find out
that she had married him
at that point
because it just made it
so much harder to end things.
It was the start
of when I really felt like
we were in danger.
- [Goffard]
John Meehan was a cunning
and manipulative person.
The number of people
that he did exactly
the same thing to
is, uh, astonishing,
and I think that
I probably only heard
from a handful of them
compared to the victims
he has out there
who are embarrassed
or ashamed or frightened
of talking about it.
[woman] I met John online.
His profile said that
he was single,
that he was a doctor--
an anesthesiologist.
Uh, just a great profile,
everything you want
to see in a man.
I didn't have a high opinion
of myself.
I was divorced, I had two
small children,
and he made me feel
like a princess.
- John Meehan very much used
dating sites
as a fishing pool.
He had a particular typology
that he was after,
women who were affluent.
It became, uh, sort of
an addiction for him.
The same as drugs
were an addiction for him.
- I think John was looking
for people exactly like me,
who might need him,
who had a little money
of their own.
People who would fall for
his charm-- and that was me.
When John and I went to Mexico
we had been dating
for about three months.
He claimed that he had
a convention down there.
Uh, he just asked me
if I wanted to go, be with him.
Like, "Wow, okay,
so now this beautiful man
is taking me on a trip."
Day one I'm like,
"This is awesome.
The weather was beautiful,
the hotel was beautiful.
"I am going to have
a great time."
Day two...
let me tell you about day two.
John said that he had
to leave for a little bit,
that his back hurt.
He came back
with a vial of drugs,
wrapped a belt
around his ankle,
and he inserted the drugs
with a hypodermic needle
between his toes.
Now I'm like,
"What is going on here?
I know that's not right."
I felt like I was in danger.
who is he?
What is he going to do?
I'm scared, but I'm also...
a very brave person.
He asked me to take him
to the hospital.
He knew just what to say
to go to the hospital
and get the drugs
that he needed.
John Meehan had
a drug addiction
going back decades.
It seemed to get worse
and worse.
This is insane.
There is something wrong.
He--he has to be
a drug addict.
I want to make sure
I get home safely.
When I leave Mexico,
John is still in the hospital.
I drove home,
getting all of my luggage out,
and John's gym bag is in there.
And his gym bag had spilled...
and I found vials.
I don't know what they are,
but they're like
little tiny vials,
and I'm like, "You know what?
This looks like a drug."
I also found a card--
business card--
that had his ex-wife's name
on it.
So I called Tonia
the next day.
- I'd been separated, um,
from John
for approximately a year,
living in a new home,
and I randomly get a call
from a woman saying
that she has travelled
to, um, Cancun
with John and, uh, asking me
a lot of questions about him.
I said, "You need to call
Detective Luken."
Seven days later,
after I open this case,
luck would have it,
I get a call from Meg.
He told me that there had
to be drugs in John's house.
He was afraid there were
weapons in the house.
He told me that they had been
trying to get John
for months and months.
He asked me if I would
go into the house
and see if I could find
any drugs.
I had a key.
I'm going through the house.
I know John's in Mexico...
but I kept thinking,
"He's gonna come up
right behind me."
Inside, I was trembling.
And I just happened
to look up...
and there was an attic door.
And it wasn't
put in place right.
It looked like someone
had been up there recently.
I was so afraid to stick
my head up there.
Stuck my head up there,
and it was chock full
of empty vials.
There were vials stuck
in the gym shoes,
there were vials everywhere.
I couldn't believe it.
Like, "This is really true,
"and this man is now going
to kill me
because I helped."
I don't think I was out
the front door
before I called Dennis
and said, "I found it.
I found everything."
He said, "We need to get
a search warrant.
Will you be willing
to go in front of the judge?"
If you want a search warrant,
then yes.
[Luken] When I did
the search warrant
on his house, I found
a Ruger 9mm.
Well, he was not allowed
to possess that
because he was on probation
from where he had
threatened Tonia.
[John, recording]
Tonia, you enjoy your time
left on this Earth, okay?
- I think John's crimes
and arrogance about it
were so egregious
that, uh, Detective Luken
just was not gonna
let this case or this guy go.
They revoked his probation,
they arrested him.
I went up to the
Montgomery County Jail
to interview him.
John denied taking drugs
from the hospitals.
He also stated
at that point and time,
"I could show you
four hundred ways
to steal drugs
from a hospital."
John had all the traits
of a psychopath.
It was all about control.
John was the most dangerous,
treacherous, devious,
deceptive individual
that I ever prosecuted
in 40 years of law enforcement.
[Tonia] I was in the courtroom
when John was sentenced,
and he requested time
to make arrangements
for his two dogs.
And then he was to show
on Monday morning at 10:00
for his sentencing.
So he's out on bond during
this whole point in time.
He's gotta do something.
He wants to get that last high
or last fix or whatever,
so John, out of desperation,
drove to Saginaw, Michigan,
where he then stole
anesthesia kits from three
different hospitals.
[phone ringing]
- That Monday I got a call
from Detective Luken,
and what he said to me was,
"Tonia, John did not show
"for his sentencing,
and they sometimes
take hostages."
- She needs to run like hell
and get away from John.
- And he said, "I want you
to go get your children
out of daycare and school
and go hide."
And I thought, "Oh, my God,
he's coming over here."
You know, "He's coming
to the house
and he's gonna do something
to me."
[Tonia] I got a call
from Detective Luken.
He said that John did not show
for his sentencing,
and he said, "I want you to go
get your children
out of daycare and school
and go hide."
[dramatic music]
And I thought, "Oh, my God,
he's coming over here."
He's coming to the house
and he's gonna
do something to me.
I just felt, uh,
a visceral, you know--
I was frightened.
[engine turns over]
I always thought that, like,
he was gonna try
to, like, come and get us
just to get back at my mom.
And I got scared.
John wants to get
that last high or last fix.
He went to three
different hospitals
where he had worked,
and he was able
to gain anesthesia kits.
The following morning,
the cleaning attendant
for the hotel
at Comfort Suites in Michigan
finds him in a room
in a semiconscious state.
Calls the paramedics.
They're gonna transport him
to a hospital.
[sirens wailing]
[dramatic music]
[Goffard] He jumped out
of the ambulance,
ran into a local, uh,
department store
climbed up an elevator shaft,
and fought like hell
as the cops tried
to climb up and get him.
He was not afraid
to use violence,
and I think he was capable
of murder.
- One of the officers was able
to grab John
and they both fell
about 10 to 12 feet
on top of the elevator.
So at that point
John was placed under arrest
for the theft of those
anesthesia kits.
Oh, when I found out that--
that he was arrested
in Michigan,
it felt like a ton of bricks
was lifted off my shoulder.
and I thought, "I'm gonna have
some peace for at least,
"you know, 21 months
or two years.
"I can breathe.
I don't have to be looking
over my shoulder."
John had no criminal record
at that point in time.
And in Ohio,
if you successfully complete
a treatment program
you don't go to jail,
and it's gonna be removed
from your record.
John always had a way
of escaping things.
That's our criminal
justice system.
Everybody thinks that
can be rehabilitated.
John was not somebody
you can rehabilitate.
He was the worst of the worst.
- Dennis Luken saw
what a lot of people
in the justice system did not.
That, uh, John Meehan
was a fundamentally
different creature
from a lot of the people
that the system is designed
to deal with.
- He needed those drugs.
That was John's obsession.
He had to have those drugs.
And if that means stealing,
hurting someone,
terrorizing some--
John's gonna do it.
- When John found out my name
was on the search warrant,
he lost it.
John calls me
and tells me that
I'm going to regret
ever helping
Dennis Luken.
He said I was a whore
and a bitch
and I was going
to pay for what I did.
He knew where my family was;
you know, I had small children.
In his threats,
his voice was so real.
His voice went
from this cute guy in Mexico,
to psycho.
He sent her postcards,
taunting her,
harassing her.
Says, "How's my poor
little Meg doing?
"Freedom is so tasty.
"But you wouldn't know
about that.
How about--remember Cancun?"
And he signs
"D. Luken" on it.
It's about the control,
the manipulation,
the terrorization.
You can't get away from John.
John's always got
his tentacles on you.
You can't escape John Meehan
until he's dead.
There's been some small
victories, maybe, for you.
Maybe things have gone
in your direction, you know,
with the law or the court,
but you never feel
perfectly at ease.
[Meg] John was out of rehab.
I'm outside in my cute
little neighborhood--
very quiet
little neighborhood--
walking my dog,
and I go to cross the street...
[engine revving]
...and a car came at me.
The moment I saw the car,
I knew it was aiming for me.
[revving engine]
And it came at me so fast.
I'm trying to get away,
and I can't get away.
[tires squealing]
[woman screams]
I got hit by the car.
I knew it was John.
I had no doubt
that it was John.
He knew that I was on
that search warrant,
he believed that I had just
ruined his life.
This guy just tried to kill me.
I'm miserable.
My leg is broken.
I called Dennis the next day,
and that's when Dennis told me
he had an alibi.
- He had an axe to grind
with her.
I knew at some point in time
either he would kill someone
or somebody would have
to kill him.
- John Meehan evaded
law enforcement
year after year.
He seemed to have no fear
of the authorities,
no respect for the law.
By the time he married
Debra Newell,
he had multiple
restraining orders against him
filed by different women.
He was a chameleon,
so he molded himself
into whatever image
people seemed to need from him.
[Debra] John was
the perfect husband.
He doted, and he would tell me
all the time,
"You have it so good.
I am so good to you."
And I'd think, "You're right,
you are."
It was just like
this whirlwind...
uh, romance.
During this time frame,
John and Jacquelyn
started despising each other,
so John told me,
"You'd better not be
seeing your daughter."
So I would sneak to go see her.
Jacquelyn I was looking over
my shoulder
everywhere I went
the whole time
she was with him.
He was a ticking time bomb.
- Jacquelyn knew
he was up to no good
and began to research him.
[Jacquelyn] I was determined
to get evidence
he was lying,
so we put a tracker
on John's car.
I was curious about everything
that he did.
[Terra] I loved it
when Jacquelyn tracked
his car.
I thought, "At least someone's
doing the dirty work."
- [Jacquelyn] He would hit up
three or four doctors' offices
in one day.
Sometimes he would only be
at these places
for 30 minutes.
- My theory was he was getting
different drugs
at different doctors.
- And then he would go home
and be on the TV
playing video games.
He would be sleeping
for like 14
to 16 hours straight.
Jacquelyn said something
to me at one point.
"If you knew that John was...
lying, would you
still love him?"
I said, "Yes."
- We thought that she might...
not believe us...
because John was so good
at manipulating her.
My mom was very much in love
with John.
She thought that he was
her soul mate.
- There were little signs
along the way
that something wasn't right.
John had set up these cameras
in the house.
One was at the front door,
one was outside.
What John didn't realize is,
yes, he was watching me,
but I could also watch him.
So he would leave for work
in his scrubs and come back
an hour later,
uh, when I was gone,
and go up to the room
and lay down.
Spend the day
playing video games
or on his computer.
I didn't want to believe it,
by any means...
but that's when
I started seeing,
"Something's not right."
[suspenseful music]
One day I walked out
to the mailbox
and there was this letter
for John
from a man from jail.
So I got the mail,
read this letter...
and it's talking about
how happy he was for John
that he's happily married
and has a great life
and that he'd turned
his life around.
And as I'm reading this,
I'm thinking,
"What is going on?"
There's cameras inside.
He can pretty much watch me
wherever he was.
John walks up,
grabs the letter.
Says, "You've just committed
a felony.
You opened up my mail."
And I said,
"John, who is this guy?"
He says, "How dare you
open up my mail.
"You are so wrong.
I could have you arrested
for this."
I remember thinking
to myself, "Oh, my gosh.
What have I gotten
myself into?"
[tense music]
- I read this letter,
and it's from this man in jail.
John walks up,
grabs the letter,
but he turned it on me.
He says, "How dare you
open up my mail?"
He threw it on me,
what I had done,
and made me look like I was
just the worst person on Earth.
I said, "Okay, well,
who is he?
Just tell me that much."
He said, "I send him
care packages."
"I send care packages
to a lot of people
that are in prison."
And I thought, "Oh, well,
that's a kind thing."
It was very difficult
to live with John.
You have this fear,
at some point,
that you're doing
something wrong
even though you're not
doing something wrong.
was so confused.
He was very sophisticated
at this brainwashing of--
of Debra.
You are talking about
a grown adult female
that is being, uh,
almost undone psychologically.
However, Debra in her gut knew
that certain things
didn't add up.
- I was, little by little,
having my suspicions.
I also fell in love with him,
so I didn't want
to look at him.
I only wanted to see the good.
- It was the kind of thing
that he specialized in:
putting pressure on people
and manipulating them.
Jacquelyn in particular
got a very bad feeling
from him
and, uh, put a tracker
on his car.
- My mom and I had
stopped speaking for a while
because of John.
I was still trying to do
what I could
to track John's whereabouts.
I caught John watching my mom.
He followed her
when she went to dinner.
I did not tell her
because I didn't want her
to know that I still had
an eye on him.
One night, I could see
on the tracker
that John's car
was across the street
from my high-rise.
He was watching me.
I thought I was going crazy.
I did not know
what John Meehan
was going to do,
but somebody needed
to stop him.
- For me, it was, "How can we
get this guy to stop?"
John was an evil person.
The case came to my desk.
The suspect, named John Meehan,
had a dating relationship
with this Brazilian woman.
Her name is
Marileide Anderson.
She is a accomplished author
in Brazil.
She's written several books.
She was a multimillionaire.
She told me
that in April of 2012
she had brain surgery.
She woke up the next morning
in a haze.
There was a man
by her bedside
and he was wearing scrubs,
and he identified himself
as her anesthesiologist.
He's very charming,
he's very good talking,
good presentation.
I feel
very comfortable with him.
[Bowman] After meeting
in the hospital
they started a relationship.
Marileide was very vulnerable.
She had just had brain surgery.
She's going through a divorce
with her husband.
John and Marileide's
email exchanges
were very flirtatious
and very calculated in--
in the way
that he's grooming her
to divulge her most
intimate information.
She started telling him
that she had all this money
in Brazil, but she was unable
to bring it
to the United States.
John told her he had
a free bank account
and that he could take
all of her money.
She was going
to be transferring
$37 million
into John Meehan's
bank account.
Marileide reaches out
to her friend,
and her friend says,
"You've made
a horrible mistake.
"I don't care who the guy is,
you should have never
transferred your money to him."
So Marileide immediately
begins the process
of stopping the transfer.
The money never came
to his account,
then he started to be
very mad and rude to me.
- Once their
relationship ended,
he started extorting her
for money.
He tells her that
she now owes him
$37,000 that she needs
to pay him back
for John to leave her alone.
Wherever I drive,
he follows me.
Then I have to sleep with
a knife to protect myself.
- So Marileide finally came
to the police department
because John Meehan
had broken into her house.
But he was just so hard
to find.
He made himself
kind of like a ghost.
During the course
of the investigation
we learned from Marileide
that he had
all these physical ailments.
He had a chiropractor
in Palm Desert.
Well, it was kind of
a shot in the dark
but went to this
chiropractic office
and sat in our, uh,
unmarked car.
[tense music]
And John pulls into the lot,
gets out of the car.
I went up to John
and badged him.
Every single thing
he said to me was a lie.
We arrested him for burglary,
extortion, stalking.
Inside of the car we found
for an office building
and an RV
in Cathedral City.
We go to the trailer
and it looks like
it's out of, uh,
"Breaking Bad."
It's filthy.
Just lots
of prescription drugs,
Barely could walk around
inside of it.
But there is this
very, very nice computer,
and the entire wallpaper
is hundreds of JPEGs of women.
Clicking on the pictures
of the women
I immediately start
to recognize them,
either as Marileide
or previous girlfriends,
his wives.
- Why he left
all this evidence around
is one of my, uh,
abiding questions
about John Meehan.
Maybe because he lusted
after confrontation.
Maybe because he kept them
around as trophies.
- I was very concerned.
In the office building
there was a refrigerator.
Crooks hide things
in their freezer.
Open the refrigerator
and there's a backpack.
Open the backpack
and inside the backpack
there is a revolver,
there's hundreds of rounds
of ammo,
there's a bottle
of cyanide capsules.
Pretty much a very complete
killing and kidnapping kit.
We have to throw the book
at this guy.
When I saw the kidnapping
and killing kit,
I knew that John
was capable of murder.
[tense music]
- When I saw the kidnapping
and killing kit I knew
that John was capable
of murder.
On July 2013,
I contacted
the domestic violence DA,
who said, "We have to throw
the book at this guy."
But our victim,
Marileide Anderson,
was desperately trying
to leave the United States
because she was in
so much fear of him.
The DA was not confident
that she would be
in the United States
to testify if we prolonged it
with a jury trial.
- I had a lot of people
call me and say,
"If you don't get out,
he's going to kill you."
[Bowman] John pled
felon in possession
of a firearm,
burglary, and stalking.
And he was sentenced to--
to jail for only two years.
Two months after that,
I got a call from a deputy.
He said, "We have an inmate
"who's put a hit out
on someone.
Uh, do you know someone
named Julia Bowman?"
And I said,
"I am Julia Bowman."
And he said, "Well, we have
an inmate--John Meehan--
"who put a hit out for $10,000
on Julia Bowman."
At the same time
this was going on,
my boyfriend and I
had both felt that someone
was following us home.
Several times I would see
the same car
right on my bumper.
And then as I get out of my car
the car would stop
in front of our house.
We started putting firearms
around the house
so that we would be able
to defend ourselves.
I started having
these vivid dreams
that John Meehan
was outside of my house,
that he was coming
to my house to kill me.
John was that case
that would always haunt me
and was never going to go away.
So at that moment I knew
he's not staying in jail.
This isn't over.
[Goffard] It was only a matter
of two days after he got out
of jail for the last time
that he found Debra Newell
on OurTime, the over-50
dating site.
At this point
they are married,
but she's now more isolated
from her family than ever.
[Debra] Some of my kids
stopped speaking to me.
I started missing my family...
so incredibly much.
John was really trying
to control my life
and everything in it.
One night, he was supposed
to have surgery the next day
on his back,
but that night he got
a bowel obstruction,
ended up in the hospital,
and I had his phone.
I thought, "Okay."
And I went and started
scrolling through it.
And I saw...
all these different women.
And I started
snapping shots of it--
of his phone.
I was...
a thousand percent heartbroken.
Felt betrayed.
I just...
It was hard.
I drove to Balboa Island.
I thought, "I need
to know the truth.
What's going on with him?"
- She called me
that she needed me
to come over.
She believed some things
that I was telling her
and she wanted my help.
- Uh, we went into his office.
There was a bunch of papers
on the floor.
I grabbed some stuff.
[suspenseful music]
And we read a few
of the pages
and we're like,
"This is sick."
- When we came across
his dirty laundry
that he was keeping on himself,
we were very alarmed.
- The papers show that John has
numerous names,
social security numbers.
And it's stating
all these different--
I think there were
seven or nine
restraining orders
against him.
From stalking...
to choking, to drugs.
I mean, there were...
so many.
One was a case of this woman
from Laguna Beach--
Marileide Anderson--
where John has tried
to get her money
and stalked her
and really made her life
a living hell.
At that point I realized,
"Oh, my gosh.
I'm his latest victim."
I found myself in shock.
[Jacquelyn] And there were notes
scribbled down
about semi-automatic weapons
that he was trying
to get access to.
He had spyware passwords,
- He had this evidence
sitting in his office.
- Almost as if he was, like,
proud of it.
He... [sighs]...
was just a bad guy.
[Terra] I thought,
"This guy is a con artist.
I knew that he was in it
for the money.
He was trying to take everything
that she was worth.
- He did all kinds
of reckless things
which really run counter
to this image
of a master criminal.
My suspicion is that he liked
playing the game.
There was some thrill in it.
There was some thrill
in tempting fate.
- What I realized also
is John had just gotten out
of jail like two days prior...
to me meeting him online.
Our first date, when John laid
on my bed, he said,
"This feels so good."
In my eyes, I'm thinking,
"It's just a bed."
And I don't think he had
anywhere to go.
- John Meehan targeted
these women deliberately.
He picked them out--
there is no mistake
about that--
and he looked to exploit them
in every way possible.
- I highlighted names
of any arresting agency
or detectives that were
involved in his case,
and I just call Denis Luken.
- I get a call from Jacquelyn
and I'm thinking,
"This can't--
this can't be true.
"This can't be happening.
"What is it gonna take
to stop this guy?
Here we go again."
So I kept telling them,
"Please notify law enforcement.
Please communicate."
He gave me a warning.
He told me to do everything
in my willpower
to get my mom away
from this man
because it was the worst thing
that could possibly happen
to my family.
- Everything came to a head.
Between these papers...
the letter, his phone...
Obviously, he was not
who I married whatsoever.
In fact, I don't know
if any of it was the truth.
So at that point, I was scared.
[Jacquelyn] I was shocked,
but more than anything
I was worried about her safety.
- I moved out of Balboa
very quickly.
I scrambled,
grabbed all my stuff...
and moved away.
Everything came to a head.
John was not who I married
I scrambled,
grabbed all my stuff,
and moved away.
I realize I need
to end this marriage,
so I get this lawyer, um,
to be able to fi--
file an annulment.
We decide that he's dangerous,
and we also change my will...
and make sure that he knows
that my kids
are getting my money.
I was worried that John
was gonna kill me
to try to get the money,
'cause I had married him.
John is in the hospital
at this point
and he becomes a--
a totally different person.
He becomes extremely menacing,
begins insulting her
via text and email.
She sees a side of him
that I don't think
she had glimpsed before.
[Debra] John sent nasty
text messages to me.
That I'm a liar,
that he'll get even.
That I stole his money.
He was turning things around
and making it look like
I was the bad guy
and he was the good guy.
John went from this
extremely loving,
wonderful man
to a complete--
I'm gonna say this,
but he came off evil.
It was a message to my mom
that he was not messing around.
I knew that message a long time
before he needed to send it.
I was in shock.
I--I just couldn't believe
what was happening.
[Richards] Psychopaths
and narcissists
have this understanding
that you either dominate
or be dominated.
If you challenge them
or their sense of self,
or this image
that they're projecting,
they will go after you.
They will take revenge,
and they will do it
in the unholiest of ways.
[Debra] I met with
a private investigator
and he said,
"You have to think...
like they think."
He said,
"Always face the door.
"Anywhere you go, be aware
of your surroundings.
"Someone might be
following you.
"When you park,
park in the--the light,
"and think of the world...
everyone's suspicious."
I couldn't go to the office.
I would actually stay
at a hotel,
different hotels
near my office,
and have my assistant--
make sure nobody
was following her--
meet me.
One thing that I had to do
was disguise myself,
and they said,
"Don't be conspicuous."
I had to get a dark wig.
I had to get plain clothes.
You don't want to be noticed.
You have to blend in
with the crowd.
That was something
that I had to do.
I put on this long black wig,
changed my makeup up.
Just--my life changed
at that point.
- I had thought,
"My mom's life is in danger."
At this point I knew
that one of us was gonna
end up dead,
and that he was just
a dangerous person.
One of the things
that I read
was that John had hired
a hitman
to kill an investigator,
so I'm thinking,
"Who knows who he knows
out there
that could be doing
his dirty work for him?"
I didn't know when
he was getting out
of the hospital.
I was looking
over my shoulder constantly.
[sinister music]
23 days had passed
and I think I had lost,
like, 12 pounds.
Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep.
All of a sudden
John calls me.
His whole tone changes,
and he says, "I need you.
"I can explain everything.
"I can promise you...
"that these accusations
are not me.
"Yes, I was--I did go to jail,
but I was framed."
He goes, "I couldn't bear
telling you.
"I was so in love with you.
I thought you wouldn't
date me if you knew that."
What he told me about
the awful texts
that he had sent me
was that he was drugged.
He had so many drugs
in his system
he was out of his mind.
He said, "I have no one,
"and I have MS.
And I have nowhere to go."
I went to the hospital
to look him in the eye,
to say, "Why?
"Why did you do this?
"Why were you so dishonest
with me?
Is this all a lie?"
And I walked into his room
and he cried and he cried
and cried and kept saying,
"Please forgive me.
"I am so sorry.
You don't know how much
I love you."
And I started feeling
sorry for him.
The one thing
that he kept telling me was,
"Don't give up on me.
I am the best thing
that's ever happened to you."
And he says, "I promise you,
"I will get a lawyer
and prove to you
that I didn't do any
of these things."
And I thought, "If this man
has been framed
"and if all these other aliases
or whatever are not him,
how can I just leave him
like this?"
I was the only one
that was gonna be willing
to give him a second chance.
- For Debra, she understood
that 95%
of what his behavior was
was bad, but there was this 5%
that he could bargain
and get leverage on.
And we have to remember
that it takes, on average,
a woman seven times
to leave their abuser.
- You don't fall
right out of love
when you have fallen in love.
It's not quite that easy.
[tense music]
On one hand I'm in love
with this man
and he's got a answer
for everything.
On the other hand,
there's evidence.
It's like, here's the head
and here's the heart,
and they don't work together
very well.
[Goffard] Eventually he is able
to convince her
that his accusers are liars,
that in some cases the name
on the paperwork
is a different John Meehan.
And he tells her that, uh,
if she'll just give him some
time he can prove to her
that he's been set up
in case after case.
- I got back with John...
and I really...
didn't want anyone
to know about it.
It was bad.
[Jacquelyn] I could tell that
she got back together with John
because she stopped
telling the family
her whereabouts.
I hated John so much.
I knew he was trying
to hurt my mom,
hurt my family.
When I went back with John,
things were progressively
getting worse.
John was trying
to isolate me again.
One person he despised
was Jacquelyn.
He saw me as a threat
and I saw him as a threat.
- He told me that if I went
and I talked to her
he would make sure
she was thrown in the ocean
and never come out.
[Jacquelyn] I was scared.
I knew it would all come down
to him going crazy.
I thought, "Oh, my gosh.
"I've gotta get away
from this guy.
That's the straw."
But I couldn't just walk away.
In my eyes, I figured
he was too dangerous.
I was trying to plan my exit.
One of the things that I did
was I bought a home in Vegas.
And it wasn't done,
and so I told John,
"Why don't you stay out here
"and get the house
in working order?
"And in the meantime,
I've gotta work
and I've gotta travel,
but I really need you there."
So I was able
to get my freedom.
The point of separation
when there has been abuse,
it correlates highly
with murder,
so the time someone leaves
is the highest-risk time.
Debra understood that,
and we need to know
and understand that victims
are the best assessors
of their own risk.
- John came home from Vegas.
I had been hiding money
because I felt as though--
number one, it's mine,
but secondly...
if he had money...
he would have more choices.
My thoughts were,
if I can cut him off,
then he's gonna have
a hard time
hiring people
and staking out.
What happened was
he pulled out the cash,
came in, said "What's this?"
And he says,
"What are you doing?"
And I looked at him
and I said, "It's my money."
And he says, "Technically
it's both of our money."
And started bullying me.
And he says, "I want you
to hit me.
I want you to hit me."
He goes, "If you hit me,
you will never get up again."
- I had been hiding money.
Hid it in a bottom drawer
in my closet.
He pulled out the cash.
He said, "Why are you
hiding money?"
[tense music]
And I said,
"Because I'm leaving you."
I grabbed the suitcase...
took off,
drove to Jacquelyn's,
and we got in the car
and we went to Vegas
to get anything we could
out of the house that was mine.
- The whole way to Vegas
she was getting
threatening text messages
from him.
He was going crazy.
It was a downward spiral
of him just kind of
losing control.
[Jacquelyn, on recording]
Truck's full. We're [bleep].
We left John all his [bleep].
And you need all--
all your stuff.
I know your watches
are in here, John.
Don't worry.
Okay, I have a video
of everything.
- They got all
of my mom's things out
of the house
and videotaped it all
so that he couldn't
turn it around on them.
[Jacquelyn] You have your keys,
you have your phone?
[Debra] Got my phone.
- I have everything.
Let's go. Yeah.
[Goffard] Debra and Jacquelyn
clear out the house
in Henderson, Nevada.
John is sending her a series
of, uh, menacing texts,
um, and taunting texts.
What he wants is half
of all of her stuff.
- Some of the text messages
that he was sending me were,
"Watch out.
"I will destroy you.
"I will destroy your family.
This is bigger than you."
So things are escalating
to the point
where I had one
of my cars parked
at my business even though
I wasn't going in.
He got into my car,
started it,
and set it on fire.
[dramatic music]
When John burned my car up,
the private investigator said,
"This is getting serious"
and he thought about me
getting a bodyguard.
I didn't.
I thought I'd just have to be
extremely careful.
John Meehan was spiraling.
He was a serious drug addict.
He had lost a lot of weight.
He was a different
John Meehan.
He wanted Debra Newell to know
what he was capable of and,
"You'd better play along
or this is what awaits you."
- I went to four
police stations
and I said, "Help me.
"This man is a bad man.
"I'm in fear of my life.
I don't know what to do."
They said, "There's nothing
we can do.
You don't have a mark on you."
And some of them
were annoyed with me.
- These predatory individuals
are allowed
to get away with it,
and it gets worse.
It increases, it escalates,
and then serious harm
and murder happen.
[suspenseful music]
[Jacquelyn] I got home,
there was a silver car
sitting in the front
of the parking lot.
John looked up.
I saw his face
from the light of his phone.
He was pretty startled
to see me.
Jacquelyn comes running
through the door that evening
and she says, "Mom, Mom!"
John's outside!"
I said, "What?!"
She goes, "No, I know
it's him.
John was outside."
I'm like, "No,
John can't be here."
He--how would he get here?"
[Jacquelyn] He came there
to do something bad.
He had lost all control.
He didn't have
his car anymore--
this was a rental car.
He had come all the way
from Las Vegas for a reason.
[Richards] He felt that Debra
was winning,
and how dare she?
How dare she take the control
away from him?
And it becomes
this cat-and-mouse situation
that at all costs,
he's gonna burn
and scorch the earth
to make her pay.
And her Achilles' heel
are her children.
And that's who he goes after.
He's a psychopath.
He is going to turn on you
and destroy your life.
[Terra] Jacquelyn called me.
She told me that she saw John
at her apartment,
that he was in
a silver car,
and to keep a lookout for it.
- I thought that he was going
to come after either my sister
or myself.
I thought myself
because he disliked me more
than anybody else
in the family.
- On August 20th
I went to work that day.
I get there around 7:00 a.m.
in the morning
and I work till 1:00.
Then I went home.
When I pulled into
the parking garage,
I looked over and this car
was backed up into a space.
I saw this guy
with a tire iron.
I get out of my car,
I walk around,
and this guy grabbed me
by the waist.
He looked me in the eyes
and said, "Do you remember me?"
It was John.
I knew I was in trouble.
I knew he was gonna try
to kill me.
He was trying to push me
towards his car.
His trunk is open.
[woman screaming]
- I saw man holding a knife
- and a woman screaming.
- [screaming]
- He was trying
to grab my mouth
to stop me from screaming.
I'm screaming, asking--
like, yelling for help.
He was raising a knife,
bringing it down
over and over.
I bite him
as hard as I can.
I'm kicking, I'm fighting.
I told my mom to call 911
and tell them that somebody
- was being stabbed.
- [woman] Newport Beach 911.
[Skylar] There's a man up here
with a knife
- and a girl screaming.
- I was already rushing out
the door to go help her.
- I got pushed down
onto the ground
as he is on his knees
just trying to stab me.
He dropped the knife
and it landed
exactly right next to me
on my right-hand side.
I didn't even give it
a second thought.
Picked up the knife,
and I started wailing
back on him.
- I got pushed down
onto the ground
as he is on his knees
just trying to stab me.
He dropped the knife
and it landed
exactly right next to me
on my right-hand side.
I didn't even give it
a second thought.
Picked up the knife,
and I started wailing
back on him.
- I know it's either him or me.
I'm stabbing him
with all my might.
I was fighting for my life.
He begins falling
on top of me,
and he gasped.
I stabbed him once,
like, right here,
and then I stabbed him
in the eye.
I just start screaming.
[woman screaming]
I saw John, like,
laying face-down
after she had stabbed him,
just in shock, like,
having a seizure.
[dark music]
And that picture's just always
gonna be in my mind.
[Skylar] Hi, I need a ambulance
right away and the police.
- What address?
- Um, someone's been stabbed
and he attacked a girl.
It's a girl and her dog
and then a guy...
is on the ground.
Um, I'm not really sure
what happened,
- we just heard her screaming.
- Do you see blood?
- Yes.
[sirens wailing]
Hold on, somebody--
[Skylar] Terra was in hysterics
during this.
She was just screaming
and crying
and just shrieking
all about how much, like,
she knew it was gonna happen
and how she knew
she was in danger with him.
[cop] Come over here
and get started on you, OK?
[radio chatter]
Come down here.
- [Terra sobbing]
And I told her, "I just need
to get away from him.
He's gonna get up
and hurt me."
[Terra] I need to
get away from him! [sobbing]
- [cop] What's goin' on--
- I know he was gonna kill me.
It's about 5:25,
and I get this call.
And it's Terra screaming,
"Mom, I killed your husband!
I killed your husband!"
I'm like, "What?
Where are you?"
And all I remember
is getting in my car
and I made it to the scene.
And I couldn't get
to my daughter.
- [Debra] Terra!
- [cop] Do you know her?
- She's my daughter!
- Okay, just hold on.
Hold on.
She's gonna--she's gonna get
- some medical treatment, okay?
- I felt like...
[choking up]
I caused this.
This is the last thing
I ever wanted to happen.
[somber, tense music]
I had to stay behind
the yellow line
and I'm thinking, "This is when
she needs me more than ever."
Do you think she killed him?
I don't know. I don't know.
I was across the street
from her house
at the grocery store,
and I think I dropped
everything in my hand.
And I just ran out
the front door.
[sirens wailing]
One ambulance
was going one way,
the other ambulance
was going another way,
and I did not know
which one to follow.
When I was in the hospital
I was getting questions
for hours and hours.
I just wanted to see my mom.
[Debra] So she sat in that bed
and they wouldn't
let me see her
because it was a crime.
And it wasn't until
10:30 at night
that I finally got to see her.
It was...
very hard.
So there was hearsay that John
is on life support,
but they needed
for me to go and identify him.
It just felt so...
[monitor beeping]
[Debra] I saw John
on life support.
There's so much
that goes through you.
Anger, you know...
But how could you do this?
Why would you do this
to my--to my daughter,
to my flesh and blood?
And I just thought,
"He's that evil.
He's that bad."
- I was at work
the day I was notified
that, um, he was on
life support.
Debra had already turned over
legal rights for his sisters
to pull the plug on John.
John is stabbed
on August 20th,
and, uh, four days later
on August 24th
he's taken off life support.
The coroner's report says
there are 13 stab wounds, uh,
to his body, uh, the fatal one
through his eye
and into his brain.
- I'd been predicting
for a long time
that this was gonna end
in a big ball of fire.
John would be killed
at the hands
of someone's husband,
brother, or father.
I never imagined
that he would fall
to the hands of, you know,
a 5'2" girl
fighting for her life.
I thought it was
poetic justice.
Why did John go after Terra
at the end?
I think John Meehan wanted
to kill Terra Newell
and send a message
to her mother, Debra.
But what she had going for her
was the gift of adrenaline,
uh, quick reflexes,
and she did what a lot
of safety experts
advise you to do:
Don't get in the car,
or fight, kick, scream--
do whatever you can.
I'm not a victim.
I'm a survivor.
I believe that John
would have killed again.
I believe he would have
done anything to anyone.
[somber music]
- I was glad when John died
because there's so many victims
that were no longer
within his power
- and his control.
- When I heard
that John was dead...
it was the best
and the worst day of my life.
I couldn't believe
how happy I was
that someone was not just dead,
- he was killed.
- When I got the phone call
that he had been killed,
it was a tremendous relief,
and I wouldn't want
to say this about anyone,
but he was someone
that had to die.
- I get people emailing me,
texting me all the time...
and there are so many women
out there.
It's so sad.
The advice that I give them
is be careful.
Um, look at the red flags.
Don't engage.
Stay involved with your family.
The point with this case
is that Debra
could be anybody.
Some of the advice
I would give
is be very slow in terms
of who you invite
into your life.
The number one rule is:
trust your instincts.
This is the thing
that keeps you safe.
There is recourse.
There are people to help you,
and that if you contact
your police department
that there are resources that--
this is a crime
and that you need to be
your own advocate.
[Tonia] Of course I wish
none of this
had happened to me,
but without him
I wouldn't have Emily and Abby,
and they're the greatest things
that have, you know, happened
in my life.
Hi, Mom!
[harmonica playing]
[Tonia] Any time
he could have stopped.
He could have said,
"I'm done with this life.
Those girls are
the most important."
John Meehan is a psychopath,
but he knew right from wrong,
and he chose wrong.
He chose himself,
he chose drugs,
he chose women...
over his children.
No one can deny that,
and that's gotta hurt.
[Goffard] I guess the thing
that surprised me most
was the volume of his victims,
and I expect any day to get
another email
or another phone call
from someone
detailing another horror story
and adding another piece
to the puzzle.
John Meehan was in our life
for two years,
and it was the worst two years
of my life.
I was very relieved
that he was not a threat
to anybody anymore.
In the end,
it brought my family
closer together.
We're a lot closer
than we've ever been.
- We're still healing...
and I think that's gonna
take time.
It's really caused me
to rethink dating.
And realize that there is
good and evil in the world.
Luckily, in this case,
the good won.
[wedding guest]
John Meehan's nickname
is "Filthy John Meehan."
[guest 2]
Yeah, yeah!
- For more information,
go to oxygen.com.