How ‘The Walking Dead’ Saved a Young Woman’s Life

An Orange County woman uses skills she learned from the series to fight off an attacker

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t read or listened to “Dirty John”)

Rarely do we ever watch television shows expecting to pick up life saving skills that we may need sometime down the road, but for one Southern California woman, watching “The Walking Dead” probably saved her life.

Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Goffard’s six-part series, “Dirty John,” tells the story of Debra Newell, a 50-something successful Orange County businesswoman who ends up falling in love with her prince charming, John Meehan, and marrying him despite her children’s protests.

The two matched on an online dating site and although Newell seemed to see nothing wrong with Meehan at first, both her daughters Jacquelyn and Terra immediately felt like something off with him.

Well, her daughters, along with other family members, turned out to be completely right about Meehan — there was something off about him. Meehan turned out to be a con man.

As Goffard describes him: “He’s got the narcissism, a talent for deception, a callousness, a lack of empathy, and the sense that he can’t connect to human beings in any meaningful way,” the reporter told TheWrap. “His only real pleasure in life is inflicting maximum pain on other people.”

Meehan ended up turning his violence on Debra’s 25-year-old daughter, Terra, who was described as sweet. According to Goffard’s piece, Terra basically wouldn’t hurt a fly but she was a big fan of “The Walking Dead.”

“She regarded the show as a fount of survival tricks,” Goffard wrote in his LA Times piece. When characters would kill off zombies, Terra would analyze the method in which they were killed and note how she too could probably use those some tactics. In the series, the only way that a zombie would die was with a direct hit to the brain — which would turn out to be pretty useful for her to know.

It’s probably best Terra thought that way because there would be a time pretty soon when she would have to execute the techniques she picked up from the series.

Like her instincts told her, John Meehan was not the man he appeared to be. One day, Meehan ended up waiting for Terra to come home from work. After she parked her car, he came at her from behind and began stabbing her. After struggling for a bit, Terra was able to get a hold of the knife and began stabbing her attacker… until she eventually killed him.

“I guess that was my zombie kill,” Terra told Goffard. “You need to kill their brain. That’s what I did.”