Terra Newell was 25 years old, quiet and uncompetitive. In any case, no one thought Newell would be the one to bring down a seasoned convict who was terrorizing her family. But that’s exactly what she did with some tips from the zombie show “The Walking Dead,” according to the True Crime Podcast “Dirty John” which details the horrific case of John Meehan thanks to the work of LA Times journalist Christopher Goffard. The podcast is the basis for the successful series of the same name Bravo.
Terra’s mother, Debra Newell, met John Meehan, nicknamed (unknown to Debra) “Dirty John” on a dating site that has been around for over 50 years. He seemed like the perfect partner for the wealthy interior designer – but it soon turned out he was everything else. Instead of spending time overseas as a doctor, as he claimed, he’d spent time behind bars for guilty of numerous gruesome crimes.
Terra immediately distrusted Meehan. As explained on the podcast, she just felt that something was wrong with her mother’s new boyfriend. And there actually was. Not only did he terrorize past loved ones, but he also began molesting Debra and her family.
“[Terra] was not a fighter and had no background in martial arts, although she dealt with violence on television with unusual intensity, ”explained Goffard. “‘The Walking Dead’ was a reservoir of survival techniques, like biting, as shown in the season four finale when a character escapes a bottleneck by opening a villain’s carotid artery with his teeth.”
That interest would prove crucial in saving Terra’s life.
In August 2016, Meehan attacked Terra in the parking lot of her home. Meehan had what the police later referred to as a “kidnapping kit”: a backpack, camouflage tape, 13 cable ties and six knives from a cookware set. According to the podcast, he also had a passport and an ampoule of injectable testosterone.
Terra explained on the podcast how Meehan grabbed her waist from behind and asked if she remembered him. At this point, he was married to her mother and technically her stepfather, even though he and Debra had split up.
“And I didn’t even respond,” she said. “I was just trying to get away from him. He started to grab me and tried to put his hand over my mouth. I bit him. “
The bite strategy? Remember, as mentioned earlier, this was a message she took away from “The Walking Dead.” Terra told Goffard on the podcast that she learned from the show that teeth could be a weapon and that she also learned how to hold a knife.
“You record things when you look at things or hear things,” she said. “I’m more of a visual person, so I guess I learned how you hold the knife, how to hold a knife automatically. Because if you hold it the other way, it will fall out of your hand more easily … you have to hold it so that you don’t cut yourself and also … you kind of make a fist [when you hold it]if you do it differently, you have less control over the knife and someone is more [likely] to take it from you. “
She also learned that a zombie needs a zombie kill or a stab in the head to really die.
“One stab in the head or one shot in the head and then you kill a zombie,” she said on the podcast. “You have to kill her brain.”
“Kill or get killed,” she said, is the mindset she learned from the show.
All of this turned out to be valuable knowledge.
When Meehan attacked them, they fought and fell to the ground, where she repeatedly kicked him and struggled to block the knife. At some point the knife blew up and landed on the sidewalk. It landed just inches from Terra’s right hand and the handle was on her, Goffard explained.
“I didn’t think about it any further and just started whaling him and stabbing him,” she said, adding that she felt she had no other choice. She used her knowledge of how to hold a knife to stab Meehan. She repeatedly stabbed his shoulder, shoulder blade, triceps, upper back, forearm, triceps, and chest.
Then she went in to kill the zombie aiming at his eye. The knife went into his brain.
“The last one was in the eye,” she said on the podcast. “So, I think that was my zombie kill.”
Meehan died of his wounds after a few days. Terra Newell was never charged because she was found to have fought in self-defense, defensive moves from “The Walking Dead” that saved her life.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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