Content note: This post contains mild spoilers for the podcast Dirty John.
Debra Newell thought she was too old to ever find love again. At 59, she had already been married and divorced four times. She had four grown up children, a successful interior design business and a whole lot of money.
Then she met John Meehan.
At first, John seemed like the man of her dreams. He was 55 years old, six foot two and he had the kind of good looks you’d associate with an old-school Hollywood heart throb.
They met on an over 50s dating website and on their first date, John opened the door for her and put Debra’s napkin on her lap. The conversation just flowed and within a few weeks, they had moved in together.
Less than two months later, they married in secret.
John told Debra he was an anaesthetist who had just spent a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. He told her he was a victim of his ex-wife’s lies and that he really missed seeing his two daughters. John also told Debra he was the best thing that ever happened to her.
Debra’s family, however, weren’t so convinced by John’s smooth operation. Their initial misgivings and what followed is the now the subject of the podcast Dirty John.
Dirty John is a seven-part feature podcast produced by the LA Times, distributed by Wondery and narrated by Christopher Goffard.
As the story of John’s past unfolds on the podcast, the audience learns the truth along with Debra – who speaks at length on each episode – John definitely isn’t who he says he is.
A letter that arrived in their mailbox unravelled a web of lies and destruction.
Debra learned the man she loved was a serial conman who lures wealthy women into his scheming, before turning on them and blackmailing them.
At 59 years old, Debra had never been happier with a man. Her new husband John ran her errands, brought her flowers and doted on her endlessly. “He came off as the perfect husband,” she said. But she wondered why he wanted to install security cameras everywhere. Was he watching her? . . This is Dirty John chapter 2: “Newlyweds.” Swipe up through our Insta Story today to read chapter 2 or listen to episodes 1 and 2 now (or head to latimes.com/dirtyjohn).