The slippery narrative of Debra Newell's blind love and deception caught the attention of millions of people who listened to the "Dirty John" podcast.
Now, the story of his marriage to a scammer John Meehan, who fooled him while their flash romance was becoming a tragedy, is now both a scripted drama. "Dirty john, "a television series Bravo and a next documentary on oxygen.
"I was scammed, a great moment," Newell told ABC News's Marci Gonzalez for "Nightline". "And we discover that it could happen to anyone."
When people asked her how she could let this happen, Newell replied, "I tell them you were not in my shoes."
Watch the whole story of "Nightline" tonight at 12:35 pm
"Everyone will have a different opinion and I am hard because I know who I am and I know the real story," said Newell.
In 2014, 59-year-old Newell was successful interior design business, beautiful children and immaculate life on the coast of Orange County, California.
"I decided to have everything," said Newell. "Except love."
She met Meehan online, convinced that he was anesthetist. The two men met for their first date at Houston's, a restaurant located in Irvine, California.
"I liked what he had on his profile," said Newell. "He had his daughters, he had animals that he was the anesthetist." She said that their relationship had changed "very quickly".
"John started calling every day and we met after work and we walked or went to dinner," she said.
But Newell told the man who had been "unique for 16 years "at the time, he constantly told her that he was in love with her." I was the soul mate that he was waiting for me, "she recalls.
"And he said everything," she added. "I ate it, it moved much faster than me but it was very convincing, so very quickly, you say" I love you. "
They had only known each other for two months when Newell agreed to marry Meehan on a trip to Las Vegas. Although this is her fifth wedding, she said that he seemed to be the man of his dreams.
"We were going for a walk at the end of the day and you want to know everything about my day," said Newell. "He cooked me breakfast or went to get me a Starbucks, he did my dry cleaning, my mail to the mailbox, all I had to do for which I did not have the time" would do it .
The newlywed couple moved into a waterfront home on Balboa Island, a beautiful island located on the harbor in Newport Beach.
Newell has neglected many red flags, some that even his adult children have bred from the start.
"The thing about my kids is that they [never] loved everyone, "she said. So I just thought OK we're going there again. They will go through this. They will end up loving them. "
They pointed out that he was driving one of Newell's cars because he did not own one.
"But he told me that his car … when he was in Iraq, his belongings were stolen," she thought.
Meehan reportedly told Newell that he had served in Iraq, but that turned out later to be false.
"Almost everything he said was a lie," Newell explained. "He told me that he was anesthetist, he was not an anesthetist, he said that he had a sister and that she was dead." He has two sisters There was no reason for many lies that I did not understand. "
Their story has since captivated the audience in the hugely popular podcast.
"Dirty John" has since been turned into a show on Bravo with Connie Britton like Newell and Eric Bana as Meehan. Britton has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.
"They do such a good job playing with us that when I met Eric, I said:" You know Eric, I can not decide if I want to slap you or tease you. " kissing, "said Newell.
Eric Bana as John Meehan and Connie Britton as Debra Newell in Bravo, "Dirty John".
The Oxygen documentary "Dirty John, The Dirty Truth" will air on January 14th. It includes an interview with Meehan's ex-wife, Tonia Bales, as well as new details about Meehan's charm and her well-rehearsed manipulations.
Bales shares ruffled moments of their marriage, such as when she discovered drugs that Meehan had stolen from the hospital where he was working as an anesthetist nurse.
"I found on a very high shelf pushed all the way to the back [with] drugs for anesthesia, "says Bales in the documentary." Fentanyl and Versa. So, at this point, I've been married for almost 10 years and I realize that everything I've experienced so far is a lie. "
Bales also shares a series of recorded phone calls in which Meehan can be heard threatening her. In a call, he told her to "enjoy your time remaining on this Earth because that's what's going to happen."
For years, Bales said, she and their two daughters lived in fear for their safety.
Meehan went on to terrorize other women, like Det. Julia Bowman, who has since learned at least 50 victims since the beginning of her investigation into charges of extortion and criminal harassment against him in 2013.
"He was a stalker and his manner was so professional that he recognized what this person needed to fall in love," Bowman told ABC News. "Someone to whom he is attached is never free from him."
After finding what she called "a complete package of assassination and kidnapping" including cyanide capsules, zip ties, tape, gun and ammunition that he had concealed, Bowman made an arrest.
"[It] In a way, I was more afraid than something to be – if we had not stopped – that something horrible would have been caused to our victim, "she explained.
While Meehan was behind bars, Bowman said that she continued to receive threats.
"I get a phone call to tell him that he's trying to hit me," said Bowman.
Meehan met Newell just two days after being released from prison in October 2014.
And it was only "at the time of our marriage" that Newell said that she understood that something was going to go wrong.
Newell got tired of her addiction, her deception and her tension with her kids, but took over because she said that he had an answer to everything and gave him another chance.
But when she finally left, she told him, "I'm leaving you, I want a divorce."
"He said" hit me. "And he was yelling at me and it was pushing me in. He was doing it and I thought," I'm not going to hit you, "she recalls. said "hit me." And I said: "I'm not going to hit you." And I said, "Let me go." And he says: "If you hit me, you will never get up again." "
Newell then hid for months but Meehan pursued her and even located and set her car on fire.
"I had a forensic psychiatrist, a private investigator, and they even sort of guided me through the steps of the procedure to follow," said Newell.
"They said that when he set my car on fire he became a new game," she added.
She feared for her life but said, "I never thought that he would take it to my kids. [he] to have to win? "
Debra Newell attends the after party series of anthologies "Dirty John" of Bravo in Los Angeles on November 13, 2018.
Fans and listeners of the popular podcast know how Meehan's reign of terror has ended, but fans of the TV show will have to wait to see the violent and dramatic end of this saga.
Newell said she hoped the widespread visibility of her story would help others.
"If I could help people, that's what matters now," she said.
She added that she wanted other women to learn the lessons she had and "make the context – really try to understand who this person is".
"Meet their friends," she says. "Never let them come to your house until you really know who they are, take your time."
"I let my heart run instead of my head," she said.
For the moment, Newell said that she was not ready to go out with someone again.
"Let's put it that way," she says. "I'm going to do everything differently and trust the right person – because it's [are] good guys there too. "