Season 2 of Mark of a Killer kicks off on April 9 on Oxygen, and the first episode will feature the chilling case of a killer in the early 1980s in Minnesota, who became known as The Weepy-Voice Killer. The episode follows police from the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota as they try to identify and catch a killer who is known for calling the police to report and apologize for his murders in a high-pitched voice.
The serial killer, who was eventually caught and identified as Paul Michael Stephani, was ultimately responsible for the deaths of three known victims, and two more attempted murders. The Minnesota man was arrested and convicted of one murder and an attempted murder, but police could not connect him to the other victims until he confessed years later.
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Michael Stephani:
1. He Was Responsible for Three Murders and Two Attempted Murders Before Being Caught
Stephani was ultimately responsible for three murders and two attempted murders over a period of less than two years, from 1980 to mid-1982. His first victim was Karen Potack, who was in St. Paul, Minnesota for a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 1980. She was with her sisters at the party, but left around midnight.
Stephani attacked her and hit her with a tire iron over 10 times, leaving her with serious wounds and a brain injury. Although she survived the attack, she was unable to identify Stephani due to her brain injuries.
Stephani’s next victim was 18-year-old Kimberly Compton. She was a student from Wisconsin, who arrived in St. Paul on June 3, 1981. Shortly afterward, Stephani killed her, stabbing her with an ice pick over 60 times.
A year later, on July 21, 1982, Kathleen Greening was found drowned in her bathtub. Her death wasn’t associated with Stephani until he confessed to her murder, due to her cause of death being different and the lack of a “Weepy-Voice Killer” call to police after the fact.
His final murder came on August 6, when he met 40-year-old Barbara Simons at a bar and then stabbed her over 100 times. He called the police again after that murder.
He was finally caught after his attempted murder of 19-year-old Denise Williams on August 21, 1982. Stephani picked up the sex worker and was driving her home when he stabbed her 15 times with a screwdriver. Williams managed to smash a bottle over Stephani’s head, causing cuts to his face.
A neighbor heard Williams’ screams and confronted Stephani, who fled. However, he was badly injured and called emergency services for medical attention. Authorities recognized his voice as The Weepy-Voice Killer and they were able to bring him in.
2. He Became Known as The Weepy-Voice Killer Due to the Phone Calls He Would Make to Police
Stephani would become known as The Weepy-Voice Killer because of the many calls he made to police confessing to his crimes in a remorseful and teary voice. His first call came at 3 a.m. on December 31, 1980, after the attempted murder of Karen Potack. He told police on the call where to find her and that “there is a girl hurt there.”
After he killed his next victim, Kimberly Compton, he called the police and said “God damn, will you find me? I just stabbed somebody with an ice pick. I can’t stop myself. I keep killing somebody.” He also called the police two days later to apologize for killing Compton, and again a few days later to correct some of the information in newspaper accounts of the murder.
Although he didn’t call the police after the murder of Kathleen Greening, he did contact them again after killing Barbara Simons on August 6, 1981. He said: “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.”
3. He Started His String of Murders After Losing His Job
Stephani was fired from his job at Malberg Manufacturing Company in 1977. The Malberg Manufacturing machine shop would be the location where his first victim would be found three years after his firing.
Stephani made his first call to the police at 3 a.m. on the morning of New Year’s Eve in 1980. This would be the first phone call of a few that would give Stephani the name of The Weepy-Voice Killer. In the call, he said in what would become his trademark hysterical and high-pitched voice “please send a squad to Pierce Butler Road and Malberg Manufacturing Company machine shop” because “there’s a girl hurt there.”
4. He Was Diagnosed With Skin Cancer in 1997 & Died in Prison in 1998, After Confessing to Other Murders
Stephani was only charged with the murder of Barbara Simmons and the attempted murder of Denise Williams because police could not definitively connect him with The Weepy-Voice Killer murders, despite his ex-wife and his sister testifying in court that the voice on the 911 calls was Stephani’s.
He was 15 years into his 40-year sentence when he was diagnosed with skin cancer in the fall of 1997 and told he had less than a year left to live. He decided to call St. Paul police and confess to two more killings and one more attempted murder.
Stephani confessed to beating Karen Potack in 1980, fatally stabbing Kimberly Compton in 1981, drowning Kathleen Greening in 1982, fatally stabbing Barbara Simons in 1982 and stabbing Denise Williams in 1982.
In December 1997, he told the Star Tribune, “Since I’ve been locked down the last 15 years, I’ve wondered how all this could happen. And all I can say is I’m sick and I’m sorry — if sorry means anything after 15 years.” On June 12, 1998, the Star Tribune reported that he had died at the age of 53 at the Oak Park Heights prison from skin cancer complications.
5. He Was Born in 1944 & Raised in Austin, Minnesota
Stephani was born on September 8, 1944, in Austin, Minnesota. He was one of 10 children and his family was extremely religious. He left Austin in the mid-1960s and moved to St. Paul, where he worked mostly as a janitor or a shipping clerk. Around this time, he also married and divorced Beverly Lider, with whom he had a daughter.
According to some accounts, he also had a history of mental illness and was convicted of aggravated assault before he started his serial killings.