Former ‘Dirty’ Wright State, UD student subject of new 8-part TV series

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

One of two local universities’ most notorious former students is the focus of a new eight-part TV series.

>> How  subject of the LA Times’ chilling true-crime podcast  became dirty in Dayton 

“Dirty John,” a limited Bravo TV series, debuted at 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25.

It is based on the Los Angeles Times' articles and the newspaper's hit true crime podcast series "Dirty John" about John Meehan and his wife, Debra Newell.

Connie Britton plays Newell and Eric Bana plays Meehan, "a charismatic con-man," in the hour-long episodes created by Alexandra Cunningham and directed by Jeffrey Reiner.

>> MORE HISTORIC CRIMES: How this former cop committed one of Dayton's most notorious crimes of passion — and you decide his fate
The real Meehan got his nickname during his short time at the University of Dayton's law school in 1988.

According to the Times, his classmate called him “Filthy John Meehan” and “Filthy,” but “Dirty John” is what stuck.

>> Photos: Bravo takes on story of former local man who became “Dirty John”


What Meehan did in Dayton plays a critical part in the podcast and the LA Times’ articles.

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 a police officer who investigated him here.

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


Meehan 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.

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

Authorities said that before his arrest, Meehan used the hospital medications himself and developed an addiction.

He also gave medications and information about their use to his brother who died in California in September 2000 from an overdose.

Police say John Meehan was killed by a woman he attacked with a knife on the roof of an apartment complex parking lot in Newport Beach on Aug. 24, 2016.

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

About the Author