Ever wonder if Minnesota has been terrorized by a serial killer? Or perhaps Minnesota is where a serial killer calls home? This blog series will explore serial killers that either have roots in Minnesota or have preyed on Minnesota residents. Part one covers Paul Michael Stephani, who is more commonly known as the “Weepy-Voiced Killer.”
Paul Stephani was born on September 8, 1944. He grew up just outside of Austin, Minnesota, with his mother, stepfather, and siblings. After graduating high school, Stephani moved to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. While in the Twin Cities, Stephani floated between various jobs, got married, and had a daughter. However, Stephani later divorced his wife and abandoned his child.
Just years later, Stephani began attacking women in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. The attacks began on New Year’s Eve, 1980. The first attack was on Karen Potack, who was leaving a New Year’s Eve party when she was savagely attacked. Luckily, Karen Potack survived.
The second attack occurred on June 3, 1981, and resulted in the death of Kimberly Compton. Next, Kathleen Greening, was attacked and killed in her home on July 21, 1982. The fourth victim was Barbara Simons, who was killed on August 5, 1982. The final victim was Denise Williams, who was attacked on August 21, 1982. Denise was able to fight off Stephani by hitting him over the head with a glass bottle. Following the incident, Stephani called 911 to request an ambulance. Denise later identified Stephani as her attacker.
Over the span of two years, Stephani terrorized the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area and was known as the “Weepy-Voiced Killer,” because of the tearful phone calls he made to the police. During these phone calls Stephani would apologize for the killings, saying he “couldn’t help it.”
It was these phone calls to police that ultimately led to his demise. During an interview with police, Stephani initially denied any involvement in the killings. However, Stephani’s voice quickly changed to a high-pitch tone which officers immediately recognized from the 911 recordings.
Stephani was convicted of the murder of Barbara Simons and the attempted murder of Denise Williams. Stephani received 40 years for the murder conviction and 18 years for attempted murder. At the time, these were Stephani’s only convictions, because it was not until more than a decade later in 1997 that Stephani reached out to police from prison and confessed. Stephani confessed to the murders of Kimberly Compton, Kathleen Greening, and Barbara Simons; as well as the attempted murders of Karen Potack and Denise Williams. Prior to Stephani’s confession, he was not even a suspect in death of Kathleen Greening because he had not made a phone call to police as he had done with other incidents.
Stephani died on June 12, 1998, in Oak Park Heights prison of skin cancer.