Due to the graphic nature of this killer's crimes, listener discretion is advised this episode includes discussions of murder and assault that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under 13.
It was around 3:00 a.m. and the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, was still celebrating the New Year, 1981, heedless of the revelry, a balding man hurried towards a payphone on one of the city's quieter streets. He took a deep breath as he stepped into the phone booth and shut the folding door behind him.
His bloodied hands shook as he dialed nine one one when a voice on the other end asked him what his emergency was, the man could only sob into the phone. He told the dispatcher. A young woman was hurt behind a nearby manufacturing plant. She needed an ambulance quickly. The dispatcher asked for crucial information. What happened to the girl? What were her injuries and who was he?
The man didn't answer. He just hung up. He pushed his way out of the phone booth and was met by a blast of icy wind pulling his coat tied around him. He walked off into the cold winter night. Hi, I'm Greg Polson. This is Serial Killers, a Spotify original from podcast. Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers. Today, we're taking a look at Paul, Michael, Stephanie, also known as the weepy voiced killer.
I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson. Hi, everyone. You can find episodes of Serial Killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Today, we're talking about the weepy voiced killer, Paul Michael Stephani. First, we'll look at Paul's upbringing and learn about the religious influence that shaped his life. Then we'll examine Paul's violent attacks on several women in the early 1980s. His attacks were followed by bizarre, remorseful phone calls to the police in which he confessed to his sins but refused to face the music.
We've got all that and more coming up. Stay with us. The notion of confession can mean many things to different people, depending on the circumstances to law enforcement, a confession can be a game changer that cracks a case open and helps bring a criminal to justice. That kind of confession can happen for any number of reasons. A weary conscience, convincing interrogators or genuine remorse.
But for some people, confession is less about facing the consequences of their actions and is instead a simple way to make them feel better. Confessing their sins helps relieve the existential weight they carry and leaves them free to sin again. As soon as he was old enough to speak, Paul Michael Stephani, learned about the power of confession throughout his childhood, Paul's devoutly Catholic parents brought him to church each weekend where priests impressed upon him the importance of unburdening his soul after committing a sinful act.
That religious conviction was one of the few constants in Paul's turbulent childhood. Born in 1944, he was one of 10 children raised on a five acre plot of land outside of Austin, Minnesota.
Paul's young life was shaken when his parents divorced. Then, when Paul was three years old, his mother remarried.
Like his mother, Paul's new stepfather was extremely religious and made sure to pass on his Catholicism to his stepchildren. He and his wife instilled into their children the doctrines of sin, confession and absolution, all of which sunk into young Paul's mind and took root.
Unfortunately, Paul's parents weren't just devout. His stepfather was occasionally abusive.
If any of his stepchildren got in his way or made him angry, he would hit them or even throw them down the stairs. And it's likely that this abuse had lasting repercussions on Paul's psyche. Vanessa is going to take over on the psychology here and throughout the episode. Please note Vanessa is not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but she has done a lot of research for this show. Thanks, Greg.
According to a 2014 study in the Annals of General Psychiatry, patients who suffered from physical abuse as children exhibited significantly higher levels of controlling and needy interpersonal patterns in their adult lives. Survivors of all kinds of childhood trauma are also far more likely to experience depression, anxiety and dissociation.
It's unclear if Paul exhibited any of these symptoms while living with his parents, but as he got older, he seemed to become more emotionally unstable.
Paul finally got away from his abusive stepfather in the early 1960s when he graduated high school and moved 100 miles north to the city of St. Paul, there he picked up a variety of temporary jobs, such as a shipping clerk and a hospital janitor.
And by the mid 1970s, he was working at the Mom Berg manufacturing company. While the exact timeline is unclear, Paul also got married in these years.
A little later, he and his wife Beverly, welcomed a daughter. It seemed like things were going well for Paul. He had a stable job and a happy family life.
But piece by piece, things started to slip away. It's not clear exactly when, but at some point in the next few years, Paul's marriage crumbled when the divorce was finalized. Paul was no longer in his daughter's life, though it's not clear if this was by choice or court order. Either way, the blows didn't stop coming. In 1977, Paul was fired from his job at the Malmberg Manufacturing Company in the space of just a few years. He had lost everything his wife, his daughter, his job, perhaps in response, Paul lashed out with violence.
Details of the incident are scarce. At some point, Paul was arrested for assault. Over the next three years, Paul tried to pull himself together. He even began a relationship with a woman from Syria. When he found a new job. It seemed like his life might be getting back on track. But sometime before 1980, Paul's girlfriend returned to Syria to accept an arranged marriage. Paul was furious. He felt betrayed by his girlfriend for the second time in his young life, a romantic partner had left him picking through the pieces of a failed relationship.
And slowly but surely, his fury began to morph into something darker. As 1980 drew to a close 36 year old, Paul felt like he was losing control of his life. In his mind, it all seemed to start with women. If he wanted to make things right for himself, he likely thought the best way would be to assert his control over women by making them suffer. On New Year's Eve 1980, Paul found himself completely alone and with nowhere to go, he had no party to attend nor any family to celebrate with.
So as the clock ticked down to the new year, he drove aimlessly around downtown St. Paul. It was around 1:00 a.m. when he spotted a young woman walking by herself.
20 year old Karen Potack was a university student from Wisconsin who'd traveled to St. Paul to celebrate the New Year with her sisters. She'd been out partying when she got into an argument and left the club without telling anyone or even taking her coat.
Paul spotted Karen as she walked, shivering down an alleyway. He was immediately struck by the young woman, in particular, the red dress she wore. Something about her made Paul's brain go into overdrive. It was like he could hear a voice in his head urging him to hurt her.
Paul pulled up alongside Cameron and offered her a place to warm up, she accepted and got inside happy to get out of the cold.
Paul started driving, telling her it was just to get the heat going in his car.
He drove away from the downtown area, heading towards a place he knew well, the old Malmberg machine shop.
He'd spent years working there before he was fired. Just being at the plant stirred up strong emotions in Paul. He pulled up to a secluded spot behind the engine room where it was quiet and dark. There was no one around. He ignored Karen's questions about what was going on. He was in control now.
Paul turned off the engine, went to the trunk and pulled out a tire iron, concealing the weapon. He ordered Karen to get out of the car. Terrified, she refused. That's when he attacked.
He hit her over the head with the tire iron, then dragged her out of the car and threw her onto the ground. As Karen lay unconscious in the snow, Paul hit her another dozen times with his weapon, cracking her skull. When he was finished, Paul got back into his car and sped off, leaving Karen's lifeless form behind. But as he drove away, the enormity of what he had done began to sink in. He was suddenly overwhelmed with shame, guilt and fear.
As his thoughts became less jumbled, he realized that he needed to help Karen, he couldn't just leave her there to die. Not only that, he also needed to confess to free himself of the weight of his actions.
Paul found a phone booth and called nine one one. In a shaky, high pitched and emotional voice. Paul told the operator that there was an emergency, a badly hurt woman near the railroad tracks by the Malmberg Machine Shop. He begged them to send an ambulance and save the girl's life.
The dispatcher asked for details about what happened, but Paul refused to say when they asked Paul who he was. He immediately hung up the phone.
Police officers raced to the factory where they found 20 year old Karen badly injured but alive.
There was little evidence at the crime scene that could help police identify Karen's attacker even when she regained consciousness. Karen wasn't able to help. She'd suffered significant brain trauma and had no memory of what happened that night, confusing the police even further. There was also no evidence of sexual assault or robbery, making it difficult to figure out a motive. As the investigation continued over the next few days, the detectives returned to the nine one one call. They listen to the recording of the emotional man who'd reported Karen's attack.
It didn't take them long to suspect that this weepy voiced man was the assailant.
Back in his own home, Paul watched the news closely for mention of the investigation, he waited anxiously, expecting police to appear at his door any day, but they never did. As time passed, he realized that he'd gotten away with the brutal crime.
Paul was horrified by what he'd done, but also seemed aware that he wasn't fully in control of his actions. He knew there was a good chance that the violence inside him would emerge again and the next time his victim might not survive.
Coming up, Paul Stephani's attacks again with deadly results, listeners, here's a new show I can't wait for you to check out.
When it comes to love, every story is unique.
Some play out like fairy tales seemingly meant to be. Others defy the odds to achieve happily ever after. In our love story, the newest Spotify original from cast, you'll discover the many pathways to love as told by the actual couples who found them every Tuesday. Our love story celebrates the ups and downs and pivotal moments that turn complete strangers into perfect pairs. Each episode offers an intimate glimpse inside a real life romance, with couples recounting the highlights and hardships that define their love.
Whether it's a chance encounter, a former friendship or even a former enemy, our love story proves that love can begin and blossom in the most unexpected ways. Follow our love story free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Now back to the story. Thirty six year old Paul Stephani had been many things in his life, a janitor, a clerk, a husband and a father. But as his life fell apart in the late 1970s, all the good things slipped away and he was left spiraling.
In the early hours of New Year's Day, 1981, he brutally beat 20 year old Karen Potack and left her for dead in the snow, feeling remorseful in the aftermath of the crime, Paul called the police and told them where to find Karen. First responders arrived in time to save her life, but couldn't figure out who attacked her.
Horrified by what he'd done, Paul laid low for the next six months, but his self-control couldn't last forever. And on June 3rd, 1981, he was eating at a diner when something stirred inside of him, 18 year old Kimberly Compton was wearing red when she caught his eye. She had just graduated from high school and was new in St. Paul.
He struck up a conversation with a teenager and offered to take her around town to get to know the place. He suggested a drive down to the river for a picnic.
Happy to have found a friend in her new city.
Kimberly agreed. Later, Paul would say that he had no conscious intention to hurt Kimberly when she got into his car, he truly did want to just take a ride around the city. But just minutes after they started driving, he entered a dissociative state disconnected from reality. That's when he heard a voice in his head telling him to kill.
Paul drove to a secluded place he knew well, a spot with a good view of the river. When they parked, he encouraged Kimberly to get out and take a look around. He told her it would be something to tell her parents about. While Kimberly walked down to the riverside, Paul retrieved an ice pick from his trunk, then followed her. He hid the weapon as the two lay down in the grass together, enjoying the sound of the rushing water.
Then, without saying a word, Paul leaned over and began to stab Kimberly.
He stabbed her 61 times with the ice pick. But even that wasn't enough. When he was done with the Ice Pick, he dropped it and strangled Kimberly with her own shoelace. Once he was sure she was dead, Paul stood up and caught his breath. Looking down at Kimberly's body, he began to understand what he'd just done. He knew he had to clean up. He pushed the body away from the river's edge, hoping to make it harder to spot.
Then, as he rushed back to his car, he tossed the bloodied ice pick as far as he could.
Once again, Paul's mind cleared up as he drove away from the scene and the reality of his crime sunk in, but this time he knew beyond a doubt that Kimberly was dead. He couldn't help her by calling 911 one. So he drove back to his home and thought about what to do while Paul contemplated his next move.
Three teenage boys found Kimberly's body and sounded the alarm. The police arrived at the scene and were flummoxed by the murder, like the attack on Karen Potack. There were no obvious clues. All they knew was that Kimberly had been stabbed dozens of times with a weapon they assumed was a screwdriver. Around the same time as the investigation began, Paul made a frenzied call to the police. He knew it was too late to help his victim, but he couldn't stop himself from wanting to confess.
Throughout his entire life, Paul had remained a devout Catholic and faced with the truth of his actions, he felt there was only one right thing he could do to make amends. Confess when the police dispatcher picked up, Paul spoke slowly into the receiver, telling them, first, don't talk, just listen. Paul told the police that he was sorry for killing Kimberly Compton and explained that he didn't know why he'd done it. Strangely, he seemed disappointed that the police hadn't arrested him yet.
He whimpered into the phone. I just stabbed somebody with an ice pick. I can't help myself. I keep killing somebody again.
Paul refused to identify himself and didn't offer any other details on the crime. At first, the officers who heard the call assumed it was a prank. The bizarre emotional affect of the caller seemed too over the top to be real.
But shortly after the call, a forensic examiner determined that the weapon must have been an ice pick or something similar to it. It was chilling confirmation that Paul's hysterical phone call wasn't a hoax. It was the killer speaking.
Investigators nicknamed him the "Weepy Voiced Killer." And with no other clues to his identity, they focused on the phone calls. They released the recordings to the media, hoping someone might recognize the voice. Then they waited for him to call again. While investigators waited for the call, Paul watched the news reports of Kimberly Compton's death. He spent days agonizing over the pain he caused, feeling a building sense of guilt. But it all became too much to handle.
He picked up the phone and dialed nine one one once more.
This time the police were ready.
They listened closely as Paul spoke quietly and sadly, apologizing profusely for what he'd done. He told the cops that he couldn't help himself and didn't understand his own motivations for the crime. To him, the murder felt like a big dream.
Through sobs, Paul said he'd rather kill himself than be locked up. Then he ended the call by claiming, like a child who'd been caught stealing, that he'd try not to kill anybody else. The police tracked the call to a payphone near a bus depot, but by the time they got there, Paul was long gone.
He was clearly willing to confess, but had no desire to face the consequences of his actions.
According to the 2004 article Riddell's in Serial Murder, published in the Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior. A killer's desires to contact, provoke and challenge the police can be driven by their own depleted sense of self-worth and desire for recognition. It's believed that this need often stems from uncaring parental figures. In childhood, confessing may have been a way for Paul to make an authority figure see him as important in this case, the police. Additionally, it seems that asking the police to stop him wasn't just a way for Paul to assuage his own guilt over his crimes.
In his mind, it wasn't his fault.
He'd asked for someone to stop him and they were working hard to do just that. Investigators suspected they were dealing with a repeat offender, so they combed back through the records of earlier crimes and rediscovered the January attack on Karen Potack.
While the M.O. displayed during Karen's attack was slightly different, a tire iron instead of an ice pick, the police had a hunch it was the work of the same man. It was potential confirmation that the man they were hunting wasn't just a one time perpetrator, but a potential serial killer.
The biggest and most important parallel between the cases was that the same man called the police after each crime, confessing and expressing remorse in his distinctive voice.
But two other similarities stood out the fact that neither woman was sexually assaulted and the odd coincidence that both women were wearing red clothing.
The police released this information to the public, hoping to use the eyes and ears of locals to help catch the killer. But after making the connection between Paul's two attacks, the leads dried up and the case went cold.
While the police continued working to track him down, Paul managed to contain his violent urges. He lived a seemingly normal life for over a year. But in the summer of 1982, things were ready to boil over again.
On the afternoon of July 21st, Paul was driving through the suburb of Lauderdale when he entered a dissociative state, just like when he attacked his previous two victims. It's unclear what triggered this event, but it's important to note that we have only Paul's account to go on.
It's possible that as he drove by her apartment building, he spotted 33 year old Kathy Greening packing her car for a weekend getaway. Maybe she, like Karen Potack and Kimberly Compton before her, was wearing red.
It's also likely that Paul knew Kathy's personally. In her address book, Kathleen had written the name Paul S. alongside his phone number. Whatever it was that triggered Paul, something caused him to stop his car outside Kathleen's apartment that day, and he had murder in his heart.
He watched from across the street as Kathy finished packing and walked back into her house after waiting a few minutes to make sure no one was watching. Paul got out of his car and walked through Kathleen's unlocked front door.
Inside, he heard noise coming from the bathroom. Quietly, he made his way towards the sounds until he found Kathy preparing to take a bath.
He lunged into the bathroom and grabbed Kathy before she could scream for help. He shoved her head beneath the water and held her there.
Paul would later reflect that the murder felt like a game or an out of body experience. As he drowned Kathy, he thought to himself, What are you doing? She's dying.
But despite those thoughts, Paul didn't stop. When he came out of the dissociative state, he saw Kathy's dead body in the bathtub. It's not clear why, but this time Paul chose not to call the police and confess. Still, he felt the guilt weighing heavily on him and had to find a way to let it out. So he drove to his church, sat in the pews and sobbed. According to a 1995 study published by psychologist Catherine Mique, Jean Allbright and Marc McMinn, confession plays an instrumental role in the psyches of religious people.
They suggest that religiously motivated people often feel intense guilt but can protect themselves from internalizing negative feelings about themselves by confessing. However, this is only true of those that researchers call intrinsically religious people who feel sincere spirituality and a connection to God. Unlike the so-called extrinsically religious who follow the rules of religion out of social conformity. According to the study, intrinsically religious people have better emotional health and learn from their guilt, while the extrinsically religious are more likely to feel unsatisfied by their confessions.
Paul needed to confess in order to avoid feeling the psychological repercussions of his actions. In a way, he was protecting himself from truly acknowledging what he'd done. Unfortunately, the confessions did not lead to a change in behavior and may have even allowed him to continue killing. As Paul struggled with his compounding feelings of guilt, police investigated Kathy Greening's murder without one of Paul's trademark phone calls. There was nothing to suggest that it was the same culprit compared to the attacks on Karen Potack and Kimberly Compton.
Everything about the crime was different. So the detectives involved in the weepy voiced killer hunt didn't look closely at Kathy's murder. They had no idea that the man they wanted was back in the game and he just changed the rules. Up next, police race to find the weepie voiced killer before he strikes again.
Now back to the story. By the late summer of 1982, 37 year old Paul Stephani had attacked three women, killing two of them. But after a second murder, his violent dissociative state seemed to arrive with increased frequency and intensity.
On August 5th, two weeks after the murder of Kathy Greening, Paul met 40 year old Barbara Simons at the hexagon bar in Minneapolis. According to the true documentary series, Murder Calls like Paul's previous victims. She was also wearing red clothing. Paul approached Barbara and asked for a cigarette she gave him. One of the pair began talking. Barbara thought Paul was charming and they spoke long enough for her to feel comfortable with him. As the night came to a close, Paul offered Barbara a ride home and she graciously accepted.
She stopped to let the bartender know she was leaving with the man she'd just met, then followed Paul out.
Unfortunately, Paul didn't drive Barbara home. Instead, he drove to a secluded spot on the banks of the Mississippi River there, under the cover of darkness, he attacked using either a screwdriver or another ice pick.
He stabbed Barbara over 100 times when she was dead.
Paul hid her body near the river and discarded the murder weapon. Early the next morning, a young paper boy discovered a lifeless form in the grass and called the police based on the haphazard attempt to hide the body. Police detective Don Brown correctly guessed that this wasn't the killer's first murder.
Two days later, Paul was ready to make his confession.
He called the police station already weeping and told them that he was sorry for murdering that girl by stabbing her. Importantly, he also revealed that he had murdered other people and mentioned Kimberly Compton as his first victim. Once again, he sobbed that he was terrified of going to prison, then screamed that he would rather kill himself than be incarcerated.
As the police officer on the phone tried to keep Paul talking, hoping he would reveal his location. Paul gave an anguished cry. He said, I'll never make it to heaven. Then he hung up.
The police were frustrated. They knew that Barbara was another victim of the weepy voiced killer, but not much else. And as Paul's crimes seem to be coming more frequently, they knew they had to act quickly to stop him from killing again.
Luckily, they caught a break when investigating Barbara's murder. The bartender at the hexagon bar gave them a description of the man he saw Barbara leave with.
He gets the man was in his 40s, six feet tall with dark hair and dark eyes.
The police combed through their records to find men who fit that description and who had previous records for assault. They presented a photo lineup of eight suspects to the bar staff who quickly identified the man they'd seen the night of the murder. It was thirty seven year old Paul Michael Stephani. With that, investigators finally had a prime suspect, but they couldn't arrest him just yet. They needed more evidence. But Paul wasn't sitting at home waiting. He was ready for his next victim.
Shortly before midnight on August 20th, 1982, two weeks after the murder of Barbara Simons, Paul was back out on the town.
He drove into east Minneapolis, where he approached 19 year old sex worker Denice Williams.
She was exactly his type, which, as far as we can tell, meant she was wearing red.
Paul offered Denise 100 dollars for her services, which she accepted.
She got into his car and Paul drove back to his apartment in St. Paul, where they had sex.
Afterwards, Paul offered to drive Denise home. But as they drove back towards Minneapolis, Denise noticed that Paul was driving down side roads and through residential neighborhoods instead of taking the highway.
This made the 19 year old extremely nervous. Something wasn't right. By the time Paul started rambling about his sexual fantasies, alarm bells were ringing and Denise's head, she knew she had to get out of the car as fast as she could.
Eventually, Paul pulled the car into a dark, secluded parking lot. After turning off the ignition, he aggressively demanded the Denice pay for her ride. Panicking, Denise scrambled to get out of the car, but Paul grabbed her and pulled her back in.
Before Denise could break free. Paul pulled a screwdriver out of his glove compartment and sank it into her abdomen.
Dennis collapsed back into the seat as Paul stabbed her again, knowing she had to fight back. She reached down to the floor of the car trying to find a weapon of her own. After a couple of seconds, her hand wrapped around an old glass soda bottle. She smashed the bottle over Paul's head, then sliced at his face and hand with the broken glass. Paul yelled in pain as Denise fought for her life. For a moment, she seemed to have the upper hand.
Paul pushed open the passenger side door, and together they spilled out onto the pavement outside the car.
Paul tried to subdue Denise while she screamed desperately for help. Her cries caught the attention of Douglas Panning. A young man who lived nearby. He rushed over and grabbed Paul's arm, trying to stop him from killing the young woman.
Paul lunged after Douglas and chased him out of the parking lot. Douglas escaped and ran back into his house to call the police, knowing that authorities were sure to arrive soon. Paul returned to his car and sped away from the scene, leaving Denise for dead.
He returned home, emerging from his dissociative state and noticed that he was bleeding profusely from his injuries.
He needed medical treatment and he couldn't get to a hospital on his own, worrying for his life. He called nine one one. He told the dispatcher that he'd been beaten up and needed an ambulance. But Paul didn't realize that the nine one one dispatchers had been briefed on his crimes as well as the phone calls that followed. So the dispatcher immediately recognized the voice of the weepy voiced killer after an ambulance brought Paul to a hospital. Police were there to greet him.
They were ready to bring a killer to justice.
Once Paul's injuries were treated, the officers brought him to the police station where he was led directly into an interrogation room.
Detective Don Brown sat across from him and offered a sympathetic ear to Paul. He pretended to be concerned about the supposed attack, which Paul claimed had been a robbery. But once Paul was comfortable talking, Detective Brown opened his file on the weepy voiced killer confronting Paul with pictures of his victims. Paul's demeanor changed instantly. His voice pitched higher and became Wigney, his expression more pained and anxious. In a matter of seconds, as the detective watched, Paul became the weepy voiced killer.
They knew they had their man. Even confronted with the evidence against him, Paul refused to come clean, unlike confessing in a church or over the phone, a confession to the police during an interrogation had very real consequences. He knew that if he told the police the truth, he would go to prison, a prospect that terrified him.
So Paul maintained his innocence and insisted that his wasn't the voice in the calls, but his denials didn't convince anyone. Over the next few days, Detective Brown spoke to people who knew Paul, including his sister and ex-wife. They identified the voice and the phone calls as Paul. What's more, they were all willing to testify, unfortunately, while the voice on the phone was clearly a match for Paul.
The detectives didn't have enough physical evidence to charge him for the attack on Karen PopTech or the murder of Kimberly Compton.
But the prosecutors charged him for what they could. The murder of Barbara Simons and the attempted murder of Denise Williams.
Luckily, Paul could be connected to both attacks by eyewitness testimony after a long and drawn out trial in April 1985. Paul was convicted of all charges against him and sentenced to 40 years in prison. But his story didn't end there. After a decade of living behind bars in December of 1997, 53 year old Paul was diagnosed with skin cancer, which had already metastasized throughout his body. He was given less than a year to live. Faced with his own death, Paul knew he had to do one last thing before he passed.
Confess to everything. Paul sat down with a pair of detectives and laid out all of his crimes. He admitted at last to the attack on Karen PopTech and the murder of Kimberly Compton. He then surprised them by confessing to the drowning murder of Cathy Greening, a crime that the police never suspected was related to the weepy voiced killer. Paul claimed that he wanted to confess now for the same reason he made the phone calls after his crimes. He wanted to come clean to offer closure for the unsolved cases and apologize to the families of his victims.
He insisted that he really did feel enormous guilt and confusion, that in each of his crimes, he'd simply lost control of his actions even at the end of his life.
However, Paul couldn't offer any motivation for his crimes. One theory was that he killed women who were wearing red. But Paul had no explanation for that either.
Detectives believed Paul made his phone calls because of his parents religious instructions when he was a child. After sin comes confession. But the investigators and prosecutors were also skeptical of Paul's motivations for coming clean at last to them. He wasn't a man trying to ease others pain. They saw a man crying crocodile tears, trying to grasp one last shred of power. According to criminologist Nicola Melissia, the final stage of a serial killer's predatory cycle is the satisfaction phase, the period after the murder, when they feel momentarily powerful, filling the void of inadequacy that led to the crime in the first place.
This phase is greatly influenced by the media, which can make the killer feel even more dominant and in control by confessing to his crimes in 1997 and including a crime that no one knew he'd committed. It's possible that Paul was creating a new satisfaction phase for himself for one final news cycle. As the confessions were reported and discussed, he was a person of importance and power. False confessions were investigated by the police who were able to confirm that he was telling the truth.
But to this day, his motivation for the crimes remains a mystery.
Some believe that he really did lose control of himself during the brutal attacks and was then overcome by guilt. This seems possible, given the detective, Don Browne, noted that Paul turned into a different person when he spoke of the crimes. Others suggest that Paul shows of remorse from the phone calls to his deathbed confessions were all an act, perhaps part of a cold blooded strategy designed to increase his own infamy and toy with the police. Whether he felt true remorse or not, Paul did admit to his crimes and face consequences for them.
He died on June 12th, 1998, less than six months after his final confession. He was 53 years old from a young age.
Paul Michael Stefany learned the power of confession, but perhaps he should have paid more attention to the fact that if you don't hurt other people, there's no need to confess at all.
Thanks again for tuning in to serial killers. You can find more episodes of serial killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify.
We'll see you next time. Have a killer week.
Serial Killers is a Spotify original from podcast. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cuddler Sound Design by Juan Baude with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Bruce Kaktovik. This episode of Serial Killers was written by Ryan Lee with writing assistants by Joel Kaplan and stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson. Don't forget to check out our love story, the newest Spotify original from podcast every Tuesday, discover the many pathways to love as told by the actual couples who found them.
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