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Meet Terra Newel — The Woman Who Stabbed Dirty John Meehan 13 Times After He Attacked Her

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Who Is Terra Newell? New Details On Woman Who Stabbed Dirty John Meehan 13 Times After He Attacked Her And Where She Is Today

When the podcast Dirty John first started hitting the airwaves people couldn't believe what they were hearing. It was the story of an innocent, self-made wealthy woman being seduced and conned by a man named John Meehan who had made it his life's work to steal, deceive and harm the people around him. When Debra Newell first fell for John, she thought she was meeting her soul mate. But as time passed, it became clear that she had invited the devil into her home and into her bed. Who is Terra Newell? She's Debra daughter and the woman who would finally stop John Meehan once and for all. 

1. Meet Dirty John

The story of John Meehan and what he did to Debra Newell and her family was so compelling that it was made into a podcast and a TV show both called, Dirty John. To sum up the saga for you quickly, John continually lied, isolated and stole from women his entire life in addition to lying about his own medical credentials. When he met Debra Newell he thought he'd found his latest mark, not knowing that Newell's own daughter would be his undoing. You see, eventually, things escalated to such a degree that Debra's daughter Terra wound up fighting off John Meehan who stabbed her several times. But it was Terra who ended John's life in an act of self-defense. Her mother wouldn't change a thing: “She did everything right to fight that man! We’re all healing but everything you go through in life is a learning experience.”

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2. After John Meehan

Terra grappled with intense feelings of guilt and shame after killing John during their scuffle, she was also diagnosed with PTSD from which she still suffers. Thankfully, she was surrounded by loving and supportive people to help her get through this trying time. “Within the first few days, John’s sisters came to visit and told Terra she had no reason to feel guilty. Then, his ex-wife Tonia told Terra she was a hero. He was tormenting these people and they were fearful for their lives. I thought the last person he’d go for was Terra. I thought he somewhat liked her and if he was going to go for someone, it was going to be me," shared Debra, reflecting on the days after the attack

3. The Day Of The Attack

John Meehan was killed when he attacked Terra in the parking lot just outside the building where she lived, back in late August of 2016. According to the police reports, Terra was taking her dog Cash out for a walk when Meehan leaped in front of her and began yelling at her and stabbing her. Thankfully, Terra was able to get just far enough away from John for it to make a difference. “He was trying to push me in the car, and he actually had the trunk wide open. I tried to get away from him, I was screaming. He put his hand over my mouth and I bit as hard as I could…I got thrown to the ground somehow, and I just was pedal kicking trying to block the knife.”

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4. Terror On The Small Screen

You would think that after surviving such a horrific ordeal, the last thing that Terra and her family would want is to have to rehash it on a podcast let alone on a Bravo TV show, but that hasn't been the case for Terra. She has been a huge fan of both the podcast and the TV show itself. “So tonight is the night guys! The final episode of @dirtyjohnbravo. I want to thank everyone that worked on the show and being sensitive to my family’s sensitivities about the show. I tried to tag everyone I met on set but if I didn’t get you, just know I’m thankful for you! I hope everyone enjoys tonight! #dirtyjohn #dirtyjohnbravo #behindthescenes #terranewell #shoplunab #burberry #chloe #basedonreallifeevents" she posted on Instagram. 

5. How He Died

In the end, in order to save her life, Terra wound up stabbing John Meehan 13 times. She stabbed his arm, his shoulder, his back, and his chest, but it was the stab wound to his eye that caused the most damage, penetrating his brain. In spite of it all, Terra has continued to live a normal life, and one led to the fullest. Now 27, she is a blogger and often writes reflections about what happened that terrible day in August. “Ever since my trauma I told myself that I would live my life to the absolute fullest and do everything I want to do in life," she shared in one post on her blog. Writing is one of the ways that Terra deals with her PTSD symptoms, and it just so happens to be a source of inspiration for other survivors too. 

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6. A Case For Self-Defense

When the police arrived at the scene of the attack, John Meehan was alive but not responsive. It was Terra who filled them in on what had taken place while John was rushed to a nearby hospital. John was kept on life support for four days before the plug was pulled and he eventually died. Though the police did question Terra, it became very clear very quickly that she had only lashed out at John in the hopes of saving her own life, making it a clear case of self-defense. For Terra, one of the scariest moments of the entire ordeal was having to call her own mother and break the news to her: "I’m really, really sorry. I think I killed your husband," she remembers saying into the phone. Luckily, her mom was simply relieved to know that her daughter was okay. 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.