April 21, 2021

“Don’t talk, just listen. I’m sorry what I did to Compton. I couldn’t help it … I can’t think of getting locked up. If I get locked up, I’ll kill myself. I’d rather kill myself than get locked up. I’ll try not to kill anybody else.” — Paul Michael Stephani, AKA the Weepy Voiced Killer

That was one of few remorseful calls Paul Michael Stephani made to police. Always admitting his crimes in a high pitched, sniveling voice, Stephani gave details of murders only he would know; however, he seemed to hang up whenever the emergency dispatcher attempted to get information about Stephani himself.


Stephani’s will to report himself was something police could never really figure out. He was raised in the Catholic faith throughout his childhood and continued it through adulthood, which may be a reason. Stephani also had a fairly normal childhood, but his father was known for his bouts of abuse. It’s unknown if Stephani ever showed the same type of behavior towards his wife and child, though he did abandon them.


Women seemed to be a constant struggle with Stephani and is a factor as to why he killed. In fact, Detective Don Brown of the Minneapolis Police Department discovered Stephani’s relationship to a Syrian woman ended once she left back for her home country due to an arranged marriage.


“This upset Stephani very much,” said Det. Brown. “When Stephani was attacking his victims, I believe he was attacking his former girlfriend because he felt so betrayed by what she did to him.”


Stephani’s first victim was Karen Potack on New Year’s Eve in 1980. The next day, the 20-year-old college student was found naked and lying in a snow bank, suffering from head and neck injuries to the point where her brain was exposed. Despite the impossible, Potack survived yet had no recollection of the attack.


In June of 1981, another woman was found in St. Paul near a freeway construction site by a group of teenagers. She was identified as 18-year-old high school graduate Kimberly Compton. There were multiple punctures to her chest, stomach and inner thighs, and it was determined that, oddly enough, she was attacked with an ice pick, a detail investigators never revealed to the media.


Two days later, police received a phone call.


“I don’t know why I had to stab her,” the voice whined, high-pitched and panting. “I’m so upset about it.”


Believing it to be a cruel prank, investigators almost brushed the call aside until the caller specifically said he used an ice pick to kill Compton, which would be something only the killer would know.


Only a few hours later did Stephani call investigators again, telling them to just listen as he explained his regret about killing Compton. Much like a child being caught red-handed, he promised, “I’ll try not to kill anybody else.”


Police were able to trace which phone booth Stephani was using at the time and rushed to the scene, but they missed their chance of arresting him. There were no witness statements.


Hoping to find more about this mystery caller, police listened to recorded phone calls and found a match to call from New Year’s Day the same year — the same day Karen Potack was found. Stephani begged for an ambulance to come quickly, which may be why Potack was able to survive the attack.


Nearly a year later in August of 1982, 40-year-old Barbara Simons was at the Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis. She talked with a man she met there and mentioned to a waitress, “I hope this guy’s okay because I just need a ride home.”


Simons was found floating in the Mississippi River with circular stab wounds littering her body.


“They could have been [made with] a Phillips screwdriver or an ice pick,” said Det. Brown. He also observed it wasn’t the perpetrator’s first time killing considering the effort put into hiding the crime.


Stephani waited two days to call investigators.


“I’m sorry I killed that girl. I stabbed her 40 times … I killed more people … I’ll never make it to heaven!”


Police decided the next step was to see who in the Twin Cities had violent records. After that and the help of witnesses, they were able to narrow it down to eight men and took mugshots of them. Bar staff were able to recognize Paul Michael Stephani.


Without the hard evidence, police couldn’t arrest him right away. Instead, they set up surveillance at his apartment and followed him when he left for Minneapolis; however, the lost track of him.


Hours later, another call came in from a witness, not Stephani. The man saw a woman being stabbed with a screwdriver and was threatened when he attempted to intercede.


Twenty one-year-old sex worker Denise Williams was stabbed 13 times, but she survived her attack. Williams told police of how a man offered her a ride home, and she took him up on the offer. Without her asking to, he pulled over and began stabbing her with a screwdriver before she smashed a glass bottle across his face and escaped.


Williams confirmed Stephani was the man who attacked her after seeing his mugshots.


One more call came in not too long after Williams reported her attack, and the caller’s voice was one investigators knew too well. The caller said he needed an ambulance due to being “all cut up.”


Stephani was arrested, and, despite his previous phone calls, refused to admit to his crimes. When police showed his photos of the victims, his voice seemingly choked up and turned into the same voice investigators heard many times over the phone.


He pleaded not guilty to the assault of Williams and murder of Simons, and while it was widely believed he attacked Compton and Potack, there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him; however, he was found guilty of Williams’ attack (an 18 year sentence) and Simons’ murder (40 year sentence).


In 1997, Stephani said he’ll confess his crimes if he could get photos of his mother’s grave site. He received his photos, and revealed the gory details of his crimes while also confirming the attacks he was always suspected of committing.


He even mentioned that he killed one more woman no one ever pinned on him. He couldn’t give any details on who the woman was, although he did remember that he drowned her in a bathtub.


Sure enough, there was an unsolved case of a woman who was drowned in a bathtub. Some believed it was just a sadistic form of clout Stephani was trying to gain, but he was able to give details only the killer would’ve known — like the details in her apartment during the crime. His name was even saved in a phone book of the victim.


Stephani wasn’t able to give any true reason why he killed. He confessed all this after learning he had cancer, and all he was able to say about his urge to kill was a voice in his head that said, “Paul, it’s time to kill!”


What makes this story so odd is the seemingly blatant fight between good and evil inside Stephani. Sometimes finding himself in the back of a Catholic church, crying over his deeds, this quote perfectly wraps up his feelings towards his horrific actions:


“Will you find me? … I can’t stop myself. I keep killing somebody.”


Be sure to click the video to hear the Weepy Voiced Killer himself and his phone calls to police!

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About the Contributor
Erin Brody is a Writing and Publishing senior from West Homestead and is the Editor-in-Chief/Director of Operations of The SIREN Media Group. She particularly enjoys investigative journalism and crime... writing and researching it, of course.

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    LJLAug 23, 2023 at 10:24 pm

    What torturous deaths those poor women suffered! He’s right; he wasn’t going to make it into heaven.