John’s mask is well and truly off and Debra fears so much for her safety that she files for a restraining order. Then her plan goes horribly wrong.
Ever wondered how John Meehan was able to pull the wool over Debra Newell’s eyes? In the latest episode of Dirty John we finally find out as the storyline shows us what he was up just before he met her and how he conned her throughout their marriage. So, in essence, we watch the story unfold for a second time, but in this condensed version we see the whole picture, and it’s pretty damn murky!
The episode begins six months before the story began, with John retrieving his RV from the pound, after getting out of prison following a 16-month stretch. It doesn’t take him long to dive head first back into the dating and conning game and this time he’s got multiple women on the go. If he’s not sending flirty emails and texts, he’s setting up dates the old-fashioned way, on the phone. There’s Carolyn, Jillian, Lori and Carrie. John tells one woman that his late dad was very wealthy (as he pops a frozen snack in the teeny microwave in his RV). In between coffee dates and lunches he snorts crushed opioids at home. He tells another woman that he’s “really looking forward to meeting” her on their first date. Then we learn her name. It’s Debra.
So let’s take another look at how it all began. On their first date, unbeknownst to poor Debra, John was popping pills in the restaurant restroom. When she sent him home that night for coming on too strong, he stormed out of her penthouse apartment and threw a tantrum in his RV. Carrie interrupted him. She sussed him out. He’s not a doctor. She called several hospitals and no one had heard of an anesthesiologist called John Meehan. She called him a “scumbag.”
That doesn’t matter. John soon convinced Debra to take him back. Remember when he called to apologize for storming out? It was during a break when he was cleaning cars at the Irvine Police Department. That scar on his abdomen? He didn’t get it in Iraq. Two years earlier when he was in prison he slashed himself with a shank so he could go into the infirmary and get injected with painkillers to get high. Fast-forward to his honeymoon phase with Debra, in between making her smoothies, he stole money from her purse and scrolled through her emails to see her bank details.
Remember that strange woman who broke into their house while they were at church? That was Ruth, a fellow drug addict that he knew. John gave her the keys and arranged for her to “break in” to spook Debra so he could convince his besotted wife to install security cameras at home and at work. Oh, and that doctor who Debra and John consulted for advice on how he could quit drugs cold turkey? That’s John’s friend too. They’re drug dealing, selling prescription painkillers together. All this was kept from Debra who trusted John until she realized that he had been spying on her, asked him for a divorce and walked out.
And now we’re here, in the present day, and John’s ugly ways are finally coming out full force. The real John – the one that intimidated and threatened his ex-wife Tonia and sister Denise – introduces himself to Debra. “Has he ever threatened to kill you?” her lawyer Michael O’Neill asks one day in his office, as they prepare to apply for a restraining order. Debra tells her lawyer that John threatened to shoot and drown her daughter Veronica. He told Debra he had family in the Mob that could hurt her. “I don’t know if he’s actually killed anyone,” she says. It’s enough for Debra to apply for a domestic violence restraining order stating that she’s “afraid” for her life. Frustratingly, the case gets postponed when John turns up in court, looking pathetic, leaning on a cane, limping and telling the judge that he can’t afford a lawyer.
The threats continue. Now John gets really nasty. He sends a NSFW photo of Debra to her clients and leaves bad reviews on her business website. Desperate to get him to stop, she arranges to meet him for a coffee. “Why are you doing this? What do you want?” she pleads. Debra even asks John if he wants 50 percent of her wealth. “I don’t know,” he spits out before leaving the cafe. “But it’s something.”
When Debra’s lawyer finds out that she met with John he can’t believe it. That restraining order that they were trying to get is null and void now, because she invited the very person she said in court she was afraid of, to meet her for a coffee. Even Debra’s lawyer doesn’t know what to do now.
They have to do something, because John’s stepping up his campaign of terror. He steals her car, douses it in gasoline and sets it on fire. The Newport Beach detectives can’t do anything about it. He had the spare key. John and Debra are married and he claims the car was stolen.
Sitting in the police station, Debra and her lawyer Michael look defeated. “I don’t know why he would take it and burn it,” she says. “Is he trying to tell me that that’s what he’s going to do to me?” Michael says he doesn’t think so. But, what they don’t know is that back at home, John’s grabbing knives, duct tape and his passport and stuffing them into a backpack. At the police station Debra’s lawyer says, “He’s not off-balance and he’s not just lucky. He’s playing 3D chess.” John, he notes, has a plan.
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