Debra Newell is cautiously dipping her toe back into the dating pool.
Newell’s last dating endeavor ended in a horrific story of abuse and manipulation so shocking it inspired the “Dirty John” podcast and subsequent series on Bravo, and left her youngest daughter in a dramatic fight for her life. But, this time around, Newell has stayed off online dating sites.
Instead, the interior designer has been quietly seeing an antique dealer in Las Vegas that she met through friends. Newell is also living in Las Vegas while she runs her interior design business Ambrosia Home.
“He’s a great guy,” the 64-year-old recently told The Daily Mail of the budding romance of six weeks.
Newell admits that this time around she’s more cautious and has already “done the background check” and looked for “any red flags I can find, and so far, it’s going great,” she said.
Another point in her new man’s favor: He was unaware of her well-documented dating history and ill-fated marriage to conman John Meehan.
One of the first questions she reportedly asked her new boyfriend — whose name she has chosen to keep private — was whether he had heard of “Dirty John,” and she said he initially thought she was referring to cleaning bathrooms. Her new beau soon discovered that the title had a greater significance to Newell, but has chosen not to listen to the podcast or watch the popular series.
“He’s not willing to watch [the show] because there are things in both the podcast and the series that aren’t accurate so he wants to get to know the real me, as opposed to what the public has seen,” she told The Daily Mail.
The “Dirty John” podcast chronicled Newell’s whirlwind romance with Meehan, whom she married just two months meeting.
“He said everything right," she told ABC News in January. "I ate it up. He was moving much faster than I was but he was very convincing. So, pretty soon, you're saying, 'I love you.'"
Meehan claimed to be a successful doctor, but Newell would soon discover a much darker reality, including past arrests, drug abuse and a history of stalking women.
After Newell finally made the decision to leave Meehan for good, he tracked down her adult daughter, Terra, in August 2016 in the parking lot of her apartment and attacked her with a knife.
Terra was miraculously able to escape the attack — with the help of her dog, Cash — by picking up the knife after it fell to the ground and stabbing Meehan repeatedly. He’d die four days later at a hospital.
Terra now told The Daily Mail is she able to look at the experience and appreciate it for the lessons she was able to take from the horrific ordeal.
“I feel that God placed me on this earth to take John out and that was just part of my journey on this earth,” she said, adding that she was relieved that he could no longer harm another person.
Terra, now 27, is cautiously optimistic about the new man in her mom’s life.
“I’m still trying to figure him out fully because I’m just that type of person but what I’m seeing is that I’m really liking him so far,” she said, adding that during their encounters he’s been a gentleman and seems to have a “good heart.”
But while Newell is now more open to finding love again, she and Terra both say they will never date online again.
“When you go on dating websites, you put a lot there – which I never want anyone to do again because I think that can get you in trouble these days,” she said.
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