This is what Terra Newell's life looks like after Dirty John.

When Terra Newell first met her mum’s new boyfriend, she was immediately suspicious.

There was something quietly menacing about John Meehan, like he was hiding a dark secret that could tear the Newell family apart.

Terra’s instincts were right.

Her mum, Debra Newell, would later discover that John was a compulsive liar, a manipulator who had a history of taking advantage of vulnerable women and stealing their money.

He was a monster, wrapped up in an appealing package.

Their story would later become the focus of the hit true crime podcast, Dirty John. A series based on the podcast has just dropped on Netflix.

When Debra eventually left John he spiraled out of control, lighting her car on fire, threatening her lawyers, and stalking her daughters.

On August 24, 2016, as Terra arrived back at her condo with her Australian shepherd Cash, John confronted her in the car park.

“Remember me?” he asked, while brandishing a knife.

“He was trying to push me into the car, like he was trying to push me into the direction he actually had the trunk wide open,” Terra told Dateline. “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.”


Luckily, John dropped the knife and a struggle ensued between the pair.

In that moment, then 25-year-old Terra, remembered everything she had learnt from watching The Walking Dead. She stabbed John 13 times and pushed him off her.

“When I got the knife from him, I just stabbed him. I didn’t give it a second thought. I just thought it’s him or me,” Terra told Megyn Kelly in 2018. “And then also, the last one was to the head, and I think that’s like, oh, the zombie kill.”

John died four days later in hospital.

As the paramedics tended to John, Terra called her mum and said, “I’m really, really sorry. I think I killed your husband”.

Police did not pursue charges in relation to John’s death.

Since that day, Terra has tried to move on with her life. She ended up quitting her job as a dog groomer as the loud barking triggered her memories of the attack.

She was diagnosed with PTSD and has undergone extensive therapy. At the end of the podcast Terra explained she had found a therapist who taught her to imagine a safe place in her mind. Terra’s safe place is a lake in Montana where she had gone fishing with her dad when she was a child. In her imagination, her dog Cash is there too.

Unlike her sister Jacqueline (her character was named Veronica in the TV show) Terra has been heavily involved in both the podcast and the TV series.

She did the press tours with Debra and seems to harbour no resentment towards her mother for letting John into their lives.


The now 28-year-old said she wanted to be involved in the show so people would understand why her mother ignored her and Jacqueline’s concerns for so long.

She also wanted her fight for survival to be portrayed accurately.

“That happened so fast,” she told Variety. “I wanted to make sure it was accurately portrayed, but there [are] a few things that were embellished because it’s TV… You’ll really get to see it from a good perspective of how to survive if you were in that position.”

In August last year, Terra joined Instagram. She’s also created an Instagram for her dog, Cash.

Terra has also recently started a lifestyle blog, where she blogs about her experience with PTSD, and her love of zombies, animals, travel and country music.

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