Many listened to the Dirty John podcast, which introduced the world to John Meehan, a dangerous serial predator who infiltrates the life of Debra Newell and ultimately dies at the hand of her daughter, Terra.
But there was an overlooked story that’s now being told, in full, for the first time. In The First Wife: John Meehan’s Reign of Terror, Tonia Bales recounts her harrowing experiences as John’s wife of 10 years and the mother of their daughters, Emily and Abby.
Highlighting new details and revelations, Tonia shares the abuse she suffered from the man she once believed to be her soulmate, but who ultimately revealed himself as a coercive and controlling terrorist.
Through exclusive archival materials and all-new interviews with the people who knew her and John best, uncovering long-held secrets and including perspective from their daughters, Tonia embarks on a re-investigation of the man she thought she knew. The multiple bombshells she unearths include one that will change her and her daughters’ lives forever.
Like many others I watched Dirty John on Netflix and when The First Wife: John Meehan’s Reign of Terror popped up on Audible Orginal I immediately downloaded it.
There are 17 episodes in this podcast BUT I actually stopped listening to the Bonus Episodes which Criminal Behavioural Analyst Laura Richards talks to Tonia Bales for an indepth look at each episode. However, whilst Laura is meant to talk to Tonia, by the 3rd bonus episode you realise poor Tonia doesn’t get a word in because Laura is too busy talking AT her and OVER her at all times. So do yourself a favour and skip those episodes as, in my opinion, they add NOTHING to this podcast.
So, back to the 8 episodes of Tonia’s Story. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dirty John, do yourself a favour, google him, download the podcast and watch the Netflix drama.
John Meehen was a professional conman, a high functioning pyschopath, a narcissistic bully, a liar, a cheat and a very dangerous man and Tonia Bales married him!. Having met him in a bar and promptly dismissed him as anything other than a good looking man, he wheedles his way into her life, cajoles her into a relationship and the next thing she knows she’s married with two children.
After ten years the couple decide to divorce and Tonia starts learning more and more about John who has been leading a double life and that’s when his behaviour turns nasty and violent.
It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for Tonia and their daughters and when you listen to the messages John leaves her and her family it becomes more terrifying.
Fans of True Crime will find this fascinating and frightening.