Former Dayton woman to talk about marriage to ‘Dirty John’ on Dateline


A local detective and woman married to the former Dayton-area con man at the center of one of 2017’s biggest podcasts will be interviewed as part of an episode of “Dateline NBC” set to air at 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12.  

>> RELATED: The subject of the LA Times’ chilling true-crime podcast got his start in Dayton 

John Meehan, the subject of the Los Angeles Times’s acclaimed series “Dirty John,” got his nickname during his short time at University of Dayton’s law school in 1988.

What Meehan did in Dayton plays a critical part in podcast about his shocking death. 

He married Tonia Sells, a nurse, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Dayton in 1990. 

The third episode of the podcast, “Filthy,” deals with Meehan's law school days, his marriage to Sells and an police officer who investigated him here.

Sells, now Tonia Bales, is interviewed as part of Dateline’s episode “The Women & Dirty John.” 

NBC News correspondent Keith Morrison sits down with Meehan’s last wife Debra Newell, as well as Dennis Luken, a detective that investigated Meehan as part of his work with the Greater Warren County Drug Task Force. 

Debra Newell’s daughter Terra Newell, detective Rick Henry, Orange County California deputy district attorney Matt Murphy, and Los Angeles Times reporter and host of the “Dirty John” podcast Christopher Goffard are also interviewed. 

Bales helped put Meehan through nursing school at Wright State University, and then the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia.

>> Year in review: 12 crime stories that shocked the Dayton area in 2017

He lost his licence to work as a nurse anesthetist after police searched his Hamilton home and found a loaded 9 mm Ruger in his closet and 45 empty containers for six different medications from a Kentucky hospital in his attic, according to a April 1, 2002 article by Dayton Daily News reporter Larry Budd.

John Meehan, 57, was stabbed to death during a showdown with Terra Newell in Newport Beach, Calif. in 2016. 

>> 5 of Dayton's most shocking murders


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