Keith Morrison of Dateline NBC interviews veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard. For months Goffard covered the story of Debra Newell and “Dirty John” Meehan. The couple in their 50s met online, dated for two months and then married in Las Vegas, against the wishes of Newell’s adult children. Newell’s family didn’t trust him. When Newell filed for an annulment 16 months later, Meehan attacked Newell’s daughter Terra with a knife. Terra fought back and stabbed Meehan to death.
Goffard’s reporting turned into a six-episode podcast called “Dirty John.” It’s been downloaded more than 15 million times and in more than 220 countries. There are so many layers to the story including Meehan’s long troubled past. Meehan had been arrested many times and been in prison multiple times before meeting Newell. While working as a nurse anesthetist, he had stolen drugs from hospitals in four states. In June 2002, when he was to surrender himself in Ohio, police found him in a hotel room semi-conscious. According to Dayton Daily News, Meehan jumped from the moving ambulance with narcotics in his hand and ran into a shopping mall. While hiding above an elevator in the mall, he kicked a state trooper who was trying to force him out of the hiding place. Dateline airs Fridays at 10pm on NBC.