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  • Summary

  • Many listened to the Dirty John podcast, which introduced the world to John Meehan, a dangerous serial predator who infiltrates the life of Debra Newell and ultimately dies at the hand of her daughter, Terra. But there was an overlooked story that’s now being told, in full, for the first time. In The First Wife: John Meehan’s Reign of Terror, Tonia Bales recounts her harrowing experiences as John’s wife of 10 years and the mother of their daughters, Emily and Abby. Highlighting new details and revelations, Tonia shares the abuse she suffered from the man she once believed to be her soulmate, but who ultimately revealed himself as a coercive and controlling terrorist. Through exclusive archival materials and all-new interviews with the people who knew her and John best, uncovering long-held secrets and including perspective from their daughters, Tonia embarks on a re-investigation of the man she thought she knew. The multiple bombshells she unearths include one that will change her and her daughters’ lives forever.
    ©2021 AYR MEDIA, LLC (P)2021 Audible Originals, LLC
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Episodes
  • Trailer

    Jul 12 2021

    You can listen to The First Wife: John Meehan's Reign of Terror full podcast on Thursday, July 22. 

    Many people listened to the Dirty John podcast, about a scheming psychopath who infiltrates the life of a woman and ultimately dies at the hand of her daughter. But there was an overlooked story, now being told in full, for the first time. Tonia Bales, John Meehan’s first wife, recounts the harrowing story of her life as John’s wife and mother of his two daughters. Tonia reveals the abuse she suffered from the man who started as her soulmate and became a terrifying emotional terrorist. Through new interviews with the people who knew her and John best and exclusive archival materials, Tonia learns that there’s a lot about her traumatic marriage that she never knew, including one bombshell that will change her and her daughters’ lives forever.

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    1 min
  • Episode 1: Filthy John Meehan

    Jul 22 2021
    As Tonia prepares to begin the podcast about her life with John Meehan, her daughter Abby gets a Facebook message from a man claiming to be John’s long-lost son, allegedly conceived during Tonia and John’s engagement. The revelation prompts Tonia to re-investigate her marriage to John, and discover what else she doesn’t know about him and their relationship. She remembers their storybook courtship and marriage, and how it began to fall apart.
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    37 mins
  • Episode 1: Bonus Episode

    Jul 22 2021
    Criminal Behavioral Analyst Laura Richards joins Tonia Bales for a deep dive into "Episode 1: Filthy John Meehan".
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    15 mins

What listeners say about The First Wife: John Meehan's Reign of Terror

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dirty John

The story mimics a lot of my life, and after 17 years of violent marriage, two daughters, 18 years divorced, 10 years through the courts to keep my youngest daughter safe as he wanted full custody, numerous protection orders all of which he broke. He is still trying to cause us pain and terror. There is something about the narcissistic psychopath that makes them try to inflict more terror . I really found this podcast very informative. Anyone listening should take note of the details of this type and if any of it rings a bell, then I implore you to seek refuge and advice. They do not change. I'm going to re listen as we are yet again being drawn into his focus.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent eye opener for emotionally manipulated

Not only is this podcast a fascinating narrative, it also contains perfect examples of how a victim can get sucked in and manipulated by a psychopathic/ sociopathic/ narcissistic partner. I found the conversations between the wife and the therapist particularly enlightening. I am so glad I came across this podcast

1 person found this helpful

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Tonia is such an amazing example!

I think this is a story that all women should read or listen to. Thank you Tonia for sharing your story!

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Shocking

An horrendous and mind blowing account of one mans behaviour on his own family and anyone who was susceptible to his behaviours. Tonia and her daughters are amazing to have been able to survive and recount his terror towards them and women in general. 10 out of 10 to Laura Richards. Again. Check out her other podcasts.

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Everyone should have a listen. Instructive..

And fascinating. Laura Richards is so hhpof at showing how we are failing women and children by continued exposure to these ruthless misogynists.

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enjoyed it

found it very interesting along with the dirty John series. the bonus episodes were and great insight.

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Amazing story, amazing people

Fabulous real time telling of the notorious Mr Meehan by the people closest to him. What a twisted man. Absolutely fascinating and mesmerising retelling of the story by the amazing people who were part of his life and time. Loved it.

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  • tats
  • 25-07-21

Couldn’t stop listening

I accidentally binge listened and this story is incredible! I admire the strength of Tonia!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Carole
  • 25-07-21

Tonia is Amazing!

This podcast has been one of my favorite binges. I always enjoy a story where the woman rises up and proves her amazingness!
I had a little trouble with the Bonus Episodes because the woman sounded a bit like she was speaking from a throne. (Common sense could have said the things she said.) She could be more friendly and less pedantic.
I love the story and Tonia is a pillar of womanhood.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Brianne
  • 23-07-21

Could not stop listening!!

After listening to the Dirty John podcast ( loved it) it was so good to hear Tonia’s side of the story!! She is such a strong woman and her girls were amazing to hear from as well!!! Great job!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Charlotte
  • 23-07-21

I couldn’t stop listening!

I’ve binged some podcasts before, but I always knew going in that was going to do that. I did not expect to with this one, although the original “Dirty John” podcast was fascinating to me. However, I think this was even more so. Take a listen, you won’t regret it.

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  • Leahmgordon
  • 23-07-21

What a ride!

I did not expect this experience, and although I cannot say I have been a victim of threats and abuse, I can relate to knowing someone horribly narcissistic and deceitful. If you are wondering if someone in your life is a sociopath or a psychopath, this is an eye opening dive into the real Dirty John and all that he was capable of. I loved it and I want to listen to the full Dirty John podcast again. Tonia, Emily, Abby, Auggie, and Jordan were all very brave to share this journey with us.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kerri K.
  • 22-07-21

Everything from this executive producer rocks!

The story and production value is incredible! Aliza Rosen the executive producer knows how to grab you and keep a hold through this ride!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Laurey Walper
  • 22-07-21

EDUCATIONAL

Haven’t finished this podcast, but loving it. Tanya’s openness combined with the therapist’s assessment/analysis of John Meehan’s behavior makes for a very interesting podcast - thank you for your courage in telling your story Tanya.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel Jay King
  • 09-08-21

great podcast!

I really appreciate you sharing your story. I have been a victim of domestic abuse. my ex threatened my life when I was pregnant with his son and had 2 little girls. he broke my restraining order 17 times but only got charged with 2. they also dropped the crime threat. he spent 1 week in jail and was back out terrorizing me. It disappoints me that the courts let this go on. I agree with the therapist 💯 there needs to be more training for police and women in abusive relationships. thank you again for sharing your story. best wishes to you and your girls.

1 person found this helpful

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  • robert
  • 28-07-21

Good but...

I think this was a great production except for the commentary between episodes. The woman with the British accent is annoying. I feel like it was a rubbish when she took what Dirty John said to his one daughter as threatening abuse towards the other daughter. It was quite obvious he was just joking or pandering to the little sister. I also felt it wasn't right to name the chapter "dirty sisters". If we're truly concerned with these girls lets let them have some peace and stop tying them to their scumbag deceased father. Just a quibble, but the story is good enough without this Lady trying to squeeze meaning from throw away comments. I didn't hear of the guy ever physically abusing his kids, so don't go down that rabbit hole. Otherwise it's a great story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • sherry
  • 25-07-21

Very interesting story.

I wasn't familiar of Dirty John, so it had me hooked in episode 1.
Excellent podcast 👏

1 person found this helpful