Detective Who Put 'Dirty John' Meehan Behind Bars Says Seducer Con Man 'Put [a] Hit Out on Me'

Detective Julia Bowman reveals how John Meehan tried to have her killed in Oxygen's new documentary, Dirty John: The Dirty Truth, which premieres Monday, Jan. 14

Lovestruck, wealthy women weren’t the only people targeted by notorious con artist John Meehan: The criminal who seduced women only to prey on them — and was nicknamed “Dirty John” — tried to have the female detective who put him behind bars in 2013 killed in exchange for $10,000.

“He put [a] hit out on me,” Orange County, California, Detective Julia Bowman tells PEOPLE. “Once he knew my name and recognized me as one of his targets, I never felt safe.”

Bowman and other victims of Meehan — including women who became ensnared in his web of lies, manipulation and terror — open up in Oxygen’s upcoming documentary, Dirty John: The Dirty Truth, a two-hour special airing on Monday, Jan. 14 at 8 PM ET.

The special airs a day after the explosive season finale of Bravo’s hit scripted series Dirty John, starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 10 PM ET.

John Meehan Dirty JohnCredit: California Department of Corrections
John Meehan. California Department of Corrections

The Bravo series centers on how Meehan charmed mom-of-four Debra Newell and her family only to terrorize them later. It was adapted from Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard’s popular podcast and investigative reporting piece.

Newell, a well-to-do interior designer in Southern California, fell prey to Meehan when she thought she found true love with him after four failed marriages.

While Newell secretly wed her attentive and charming suitor after dating him for just two months, her children were immediately suspicious of him, hiring a private detective to look into his past.

They learned he’d had run-ins with the law and dozens of restraining orders filed against him.

But by the time they learned that, the damage was already done. He wrought havoc on their family, as he’d done with a successful Brazilian writer he’d met previously.


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John Meehan and Debra Newell at a 2014 breast cancer benefit. Courtesy Debra Newell

What happened to Newell and the other women was not their fault, Bowman stresses. “Some people might think, ‘I’d see through that, or I’d ask this question, or I would’ve done that,’” she says. “I’m telling you, they wouldn’t. What happened to her was a direct result of who he was.

“He was so manipulative, and so suave, and knew the words to say, and would be able to create these relationships with them, and then basically take them for everything they were worth.”

In the Oxygen documentary, Bowman recalls the chilling phone call she received from the Orange County Jail in July 2013, just after she and others arrested Meehan.

She recounts to PEOPLE what a corrections employee told her: “Hi. We’ve got an inmate here. He’s trying to orchestrate a hit on one of your officers. Do you know a Julia Bowman?'”

Shocked, she replied, “I am Julia Bowman.”

She says she then asked the corrections employee, “What are you going to do about it?”

She learned that from jail, Meehan had gone to his roommate and offered to pay $10,000 to kill her and a female police officer who’d had dealings with Meehan.

In the documentary, she recalls feeling like someone was following her and her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time.

“We lived in a cul de sac, and cars would drive down the street that didn’t belong there,” she tells PEOPLE. “It became kind of a scary situation. Just knowing him the way I had, I didn’t know what he was capable of or what it might lead to.”

In February 2014, Meehan pleaded guilty to stalking the Brazilian writer and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the Los Angeles Times reports. He got out of jail that summer but landed back in jail after he violated a restraining order against another woman, according to the Times. Freed on Oct. 8, 2014, he met Newell online two days later, the Times reports.

The season finale of Dirty John airs on Sunday (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.

The documentary Dirty John: The Dirty Truth airs Jan. 14 (8 p.m. ET) on Oxygen.

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