John announces to Allen Klein his intent to leave the Beatles on September 14th 1969. He does not mention this to the other Beatles.
Tim Harper’s Paul is Dead or freaked out original article in the Drake Times-Delphic is on September 17th 1969. There is no mention of Abbey Road or Paul being barefoot in this original article. Abbey Road wasn’t yet released in the US.
John informs the other Beatles of his plans to leave the group on September 20th 1969.
So what you have is the begin of the spread of the Paul is Dead rumor coming only 3 days after John’s private declaration to leave the group and without the key clue being yet present.