‘Fearless Kid’ Helps Woman After ‘Dirty John’ Knife Attack

Skylar Sepulveda of Newport Beach. Photo credit: Mariah Tauger

Here’s to the best among us—those who overcome great challenges, plunge headfirst
into danger, and fight the good fight. They’re selfless. They’re courageous. Simply put, they make our world a better place.


Editor’s Note: The Bravo television series “Dirty John” premiered Sunday, starring Eric Bana as John Meehan and Connie Britton as Debra Newell.

The now-infamous “Dirty John” saga featured a heroic act by 14-year-old Skylar Sepulveda of Newport Beach.

Soon to be a series on Bravo, the tale of interior designer Debra Newell and ex-felon “Dirty John” Meehan contains an unlikely hero.

In August 2016, Skylar pedaled her pink beach cruiser from her Junior Lifeguard class to her apartment complex. She gave her mom, Kristen, a hug, and that’s when she heard the screaming.

“Call 911!” Skylar yelled. Barefoot and still wearing her damp swimsuit, the 5-foot-tall teenager flew down three flights of stairs and up another to get to the screaming young woman in the parking lot. She noticed with disgust that other apartment residents were just watching from afar as a tall man plunged a knife into the woman’s arm. The woman was on her back on the pavement, kicking him until she got ahold of the knife. She started stabbing the man, and he collapsed. Skylar then rushed in and created a tourniquet using her towel. She kept the woman talking until paramedics arrived.

“I’ve always been kind of a fearless kid,” Skylar says.

But she worried the man with the knife might return to hurt her. The Sepulvedas missed the local coverage of the incident. Only when it became a national story and podcast by Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard did they learn the man, John Meehan, had died four days after the attack. The young woman he stabbed was Newell’s daughter, Terra. Skylar was a bit player in the high drama, and no one ever came back to thank her. Today, at 16, she shrugs it off.

“She’s one of those people who’ll do anything for anyone,” her mom says.

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