It’s my favourite day of the week! That’s a lie. My favourite day of the week is Saturday. But “True Crime Saturday” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
So, True Crime Tuesday it is! And it’s my second favourite day of the week! Okay, no, I’m lying again. My second favourite day is Friday.
You know what? Forget about favourites.
It’s Tuesday. Fact.
Listen, I started a detox diet yesterday and I’m fucking miserable. I have a little under 2 hours before I get to eat my lunch of salad and half a chicken breast. And even the thought of that makes me miserable still because it’s so goddamn boring. There’s really no guarantee that I’ll finish writing this post before I eat the keyboard.
Let’s see how I’m doing at the end of this.
This is not a killer I am familiar with, but I was immediately intrigued because he has decidedly the most ridiculous serial killer nickname ever. I needed to learn more. And so here we are. Presenting: The Weepy-Voiced Killer (seriously who came up with that?)
Between 1980 and 1982, Paul Michael Stephani killed three women in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.
He received his terrible nickname of “The Weepy-Voiced Killer” (honestly, I can’t with that name), because after he would commit a murder, he would place an anonymous call to the police to report his crimes; always high-pitched or emotional, and crying.
New Year’s Eve, 1980 – Karen Potack, a 20-year-old University of Stevens Point student, was walking home around 1 AM after a night out to celebrate the holiday with friends. As she walked the short distance home, she was ambushed and beat; bludgeoned with a tire iron to her head.
At approximately 3 AM, the police received a phone to report the assault. The caller’s voice filled with emotion, he told the police the location of the crime scene and said, “There’s a girl hurt here.” When the 911 operator asked for his name, Stephani hung up.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene, finding Potack clinging to life, even as her brain was exposed through her smashed skull. Potack was rushed to the hospital, and amazingly started to recover physically, but she was without her memory.
On the 3rd of June in 1981, as a group of boys walked through a wooded area near interstate 35E, Stephani made another call to police. He screamed: “God damn, will you find me? I just stabbed somebody with an ice pick. I can’t stop myself. I keep killing somebody!”
Police were successful in tracing the phone call back to a pay phone at a bar across from a bus depot. When they arrived at the scene, the caller was long gone.
The boys found a body, who was identified as 18-year-old Kimberly Compton. She had been stabbed in the chest with an ice pick 61 times, then strangled with a shoelace.
Two days after the discovery of Compton’s body, the police received another phone call from the killer. He said he hadn’t meant to kill the girl and would turn himself in. But he never did. Instead, he called the police again days later to apologize for not surrendering and said: “I’ll try not to kill anyone else…I couldn’t help it. I don’t know why I stabbed her. I’m so upset about it.”
On July 21, 1982, Carol Kellogg arrived at her 33-year-old friend, Kathleen Greening’s home. The pair were scheduled to leave on vacation for the Mackinac Island. Kellogg knocked on the front door but got no answer. She let herself in, the door unlocked, calling out to Greening and searching each room as she went. At the bathroom, the light was on. She pushed open the door and found Greening, dead.
Greening’s naked body was face up in the water, her head under the tap and her knees bent towards the front of the tub. Police ruled the death an accident. Those that didn’t agree placed the blame on Greening’s estranged husband, but charges were never filed against him.
On August 5th, 1982, 40-year-old nurse Barbara Simons was at the Hexagon Bar. She met a man and offered him a cigarette. He offered her a ride home. Simons told the bartender she was taking off with the man. She was found the next morning by a newspaper courier walking along the Mississippi River. She had been stabbed to death.
Again, Stephani called the police. “Please don’t talk, just listen… I’m sorry I killed that girl. I stabbed her 40 times. Kimberly Compton was the first one over in St. Paul.“
Police started their investigation with the most obvious culprit – the man Simons had left the bar with the night before. Witnesses were able to provide a description of the man to the police: around 40-years-old, 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, white, with a receding hairline.
While police attempted to track down this mystery man, Stephani set out to find another victim. This time it was 19-year-old Denise Williams, a sex worker in Minneapolis. On August 21, 1982, Williams was working on the street when Stephani approached her for her services. After discussing price, Williams got into his car.
After getting what he paid for, Stephani turned down a dead end road. Williams got a funny feeling that something was wrong since this John wasn’t returning back to the area where he picked her up. Before she had a chance to decide what she was going to do, Stephani attacked her with a screwdriver, landing a total of 15 strikes. As she was being stabbed, Williams reached for a bottle near her feet and smashed Stephani in the head with it. Williams screams drew the attention of a man who lived nearby. He came to Williams’ aid, wrestling with Stephani, causing Stephani to flee the scene.
Williams rescuer called for an ambulance and was able to give a description of the attacker. As this was going on, Stephani had returned to his apartment. When he saw the damage the bottle had done to his head and face, he called 911 for help.
The 911 operator noticed Stephani had a similar tone to that of the Weepy-Voiced Killer, and that a man with injuries to his face was being sought in connection with another crime that had just occurred – the Williams stabbing.
Police were dispatched to Stephani’s apartment, where he was apprehended and charged with second-degree assault. Further investigation, thanks to witness descriptions, also connected Stephani to the murder of Barbara Simons.
During his trial, Stephani’s ex-wife, sister and a former roommate all testified that the voice on all the 911 calls made by the Weepy-Voiced Killer sounded like Stephani. But this was not enough to connect him to the other murders suspected to have been committed by Weepy-Voiced Killer. The hysterical crying was claimed to distort the voice too much for a completely positive ID.
In 1997, Stephani was diagnosed with cancer while serving 40 years in prison for the murder of Simons and the assault of Williams. He was given less than a year to live. This news spurred him to confess to his other murders. He claimed responsibility for Karen Potack, Kim Compton and Katharine Greening.
He had never been a suspect in Greening’s bathtub death, as he’d never made a phone call afterwards and it was already ruled accidental, but police gave a statement that Stephani had known details of her death and her house that only the killer would have known. More still, investigators found the name “Paul S” in Greening’s address book, with Stephani’s phone number.
In all, Stephani confessed to the beating attack of Karen Potack, stabbing Kim Compton, drowning Katharine Greening, stabbing Barbara Simons and attacking Denise Williams.
In 1998, a year after his confession, Stephani died at Oak Parks Heights maximum security prison. He was 53.
Want to hear Stephani’s 911 calls? Who doesn’t? 911 calls are the fucking worst and the best at the same time.
Okay, in between writing this I ate my lunch. And I’m still hungry. So please send me good vibes, because I’m trying to drink a lot of water to feel full and it’s NOT HELPING! And I think I might just have a breakdown any minute now.
Until next time, Booknerds…