John Meehan held his stepdaughter Terra Newell down on the roof of a parking garage, but he dropped his knife, which she picked up and used to stab him 13 times.
“I heard him gasp and fall on me when I started to make contact,” Newell told Fox News Digital in an exclusive video interview. “I held his head like a zombie so he wouldn’t bite me, and then the last two stab wounds I actually gave thought to.
“I stabbed him in his forehead, and the last (stab) was through his eye, which is the softest point of entry to the brain which was the one that made him brain-damaged … I pushed him off of me. I tossed the knife away from his body, so he couldn’t grab it, and then studied a way to get away from him.”
But none of Newell’s neighbors in the bright coastal city of Newport Beach in southern California knew that day — August 20, 2016 — marked the end of a con artist’s reign of terror across multiple states as they raced to his help.
Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, did extensive coverage of the case, which was eventually featured in documentaries and a Netflix series. After his reporting, Meehan, also known as “Dirty John,” became the subject of Christopher Goffard’s true-crime podcast.
After the attack, Terra said, “I just remember saying, ‘My name is Terra. That was a stepdad. He tried to kill me. My name is Terra. That was my stepdad. He tried to kill me.’ And I kept repeating it over and over.”
Meehan was a former anesthesiologist nurse who preyed on women that he felt were easy targets. One of these ladies was Newell’s mother, Debra Newell, whom Meehan met on a dating site for people over the age of 50 in October of 2014. Meehan was a predator.
That occurred not long after he had been released from jail for breaching a restraining order that had been issued against another woman. Meehan swept Debra off her feet by telling her he was an anesthesiologist who had worked in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders when they first met. This was just one of the many lies he told her.
Terra and her sister both had the impression that the relationship was not healthy, and Terra got into a furious argument with Meehan shortly before Thanksgiving 2014, after discovering that her mother was cohabitating with Meehan.
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Debra and Meehan tied the knot in Las Vegas in December 2014 without inviting any visitors, and they enjoyed three months of wedded bliss before a member of Debra’s family informed her of Meehan’s prior criminal history. This decision was made in spite of the opposition of Debra’s daughters.
She broke up with him in March 2015, but they reconciled in June of the same year. She eventually parted ways with Meehan for good in March 2016, and she filed for an annulment the following month.
That’s when Meehan unraveled, and the situation turned violent, Terra said.
“Whenever a narcissist, a sociopath or a psychopath loses their control over someone, that’s when you’re most prone to being attacked or killed,” Terra said. “People like John don’t like losing control. That means that they lost like a sense of their self. And so, for him, he literally lost his control”.
“My mom left him for the second time. He wasn’t getting any more money from her. She was starting to expose this person. And when you expose these type of people, that’s what really pisses them off.”