Roseville, MN

Obsessed Student Holds His Teacher and Her 8-Year-Old Daughter Captive for 53 Days

Fatim Hemraj
1965: (L) Mary Stauffer, 21 (R) Ming Shiue, 16Photo byMade by author

In 1965, Mary Stauffer was a 21-year-old ninth-grade Algebra teacher in Roseville, Minnesota. One day, she welcomed a new student to her class: 16-year-old Ming Sen Shiue. Mary was warm and compassionate to Ming as she was to all her students. Unfortunately, he mistook her kindness for something else entirely, forming a sick, twisted obsession with Mary.

Over time, Ming became infatuated with his math teacher. Unbeknownst to Mary, he detailed violent sexual fantasies in a journal and after he graduated from high school, he spent years searching for Mary with one goal in mind: to turn his grim work of fiction into a terrifying reality.

Over the course of the next 15 years, Mary married her husband, Irv, and they had two children, 5-year-old Steve, and 8-year-old, Beth. During all that time, Mary had no idea Ming was trying to hunt her down.

In 1975, Ming broke into a house believing it was Mary’s but it was actually her in-laws. Before he fled, Ming tied the confused, elderly couple up and threatened to return and kill them if they reported the incident to the police. Terrified, they did as Ming said and since they didn’t know he was looking for their daughter-in-law they didn’t alert Mary, either.

Five years later, the Stauffers were preparing for their move to the Philippines where they planned to work as Christian missionaries. A few days before their flight, Ming finally tracked Mary down. He found out where she lived, where she worked, and even the names of her children. Using binoculars, Ming sat nearby in his car and spied on Mary, later telling her he watched Beth play with her favorite Barbie in her bedroom. All that time, Mary never considered that anything sinister was at play.

On May 16, 1980, Mary took Beth to the beauty salon to get her hair cut before they left for the Philippines. When they left the salon, Ming approached Mary, held a firearm to Beth’s side, and said, “I need a ride.”

Ming Sen Shiue at age 31 in 1980Photo byFacebook

Ming forced them into their own car and ordered Mary to start driving while he sat in the passenger seat. She had no idea who he was or what he wanted but believed that if she did as he asked, he would let them go.

Unfortunately, Mary was wrong and she quickly realized that the man was no stranger. “Do you remember what grade you gave me all those years ago?” Ming asked. He told Mary that she ruined his life by giving him a B- and destroying his perfect record. He told her that this was his revenge.

After an hour of driving, Ming ordered Mary to pull over. He duct-taped Mary and her daughter together and forced them into the trunk. Mary pleaded with him but her cries fell on deaf ears.

A curious 6-year-old boy named Jason Wilkman was playing at a nearby park when he walked over and saw Mary and Beth in the trunk. Ming snatched Jason, leaving no witnesses behind. Not before long, the Wilkmans were frantically searching for their son. Tragically, Ming murdered him that day.

6-year-old Jason WilkmanPhoto byFacebook

Ming took Mary and Beth to his home, chained them together, and locked them inside a tiny closet that contained only a small rug, and two throw pillows. He removed the doorknob completely so there was no way out.

Meanwhile, back at the Stauffer home, Irv was getting concerned that Mary and Beth hadn’t returned home and Steve was crying for his mother. At midnight, Irv finally reported them missing.

The FBI quickly determined that all three abductions were related and soon, an intense manhunt was initiated for Jason, Mary, and Beth.

For 30 days, there was nothing but silence. But then, on June 15, 1980, at 10:14 pm, Ming allowed Beth to call her father, Irv, for Father’s Day.

Irv Stauffer: Is mommy okay?

Beth Stauffer: Yes.

Beth Stauffer: Daddy?

Irv Stauffer: Yes?

Beth Stauffer: Happy Father’s Day!

Irv Stauffer: Aww, thank you so much, sweetie!

Beth Stauffer: We can’t talk anymore.

Irv Stauffer: Um…when can you come home?

Beth Stauffer: I don’t know.

Irv Stauffer: Can I talk to him?

Beth Stauffer: No!

Ming told Mary she was his and that one day, she would fall in love with him. Each day, Mary held on to hope that Ming would have a change of heart and release them, but when he bought an RV and told Mary he planned to take them far away, she knew he was never going to let them go.

On July 7, 1980, Ming left Mary and Beth chained together in the closet and went to work. Mary knew she had to take matters into her own hands — it was now or never. Once Ming took them away, they might never be able to escape. Using only her fingernails, Mary managed to remove the hinge pin from the closet door and saw, for the first time, their path to freedom.

Mary knew their abductor would be home any second but she had to at least try. She told Beth that this was their only chance; they had to fight back.

Still chained together, Mary and Beth ran into the kitchen, found a phone, and dialed 911. Local police and FBI agents arrived within minutes. Mary and Beth were found huddled together, hiding behind a car. After 53 harrowing days, they were finally rescued and reunited with their family.

Mary and Beth Stauffer after their escapePhoto byFacebook

Ming was arrested the very same day as he returned home from work. He was charged with second-degree murder in the case of Jason Wilkman and kidnapping in the case of Mary and Beth Stauffer.

Six months later, Ming finally led the police to Jason’s remains, bringing closure to his grief-stricken parents, David and Sandra. Somehow, the Wilkmans found it in their hearts to graciously forgive him and later moved out of state in search of a fresh start.

During the 1981 trial, Ming pulled out a knife that he had smuggled into the courtroom and attacked Mary. The wound required 62 stitches to close and left a scar.
Mary with her children, Steve and Beth after she was wounded in courtPhoto byFacebook

The judge ordered a psychological assessment. Ming was diagnosed with sexual sadism and Antisocial Personality Disorder but he was found competent to stand trial. Prosecutors detailed how a seemingly normal teenager morphed into a loner who formed a fixation with his teacher.

Born in Taiwan, Ming immigrated to Minnesota with his parents and two younger siblings when he was 8 years old. His father, a professor at the University of Minnesota, died three years later. At 14, Ming developed sexual feelings toward his mother, Mei, and he set three homes on fire. He was sentenced to juvenile probation and ordered to attend psychotherapy. Mei told the therapist Ming was a pathological liar, and devoid of feelings.

While a student of Mary Stauffer, Ming was on the football, track, baseball, and wrestling teams. He had a perfect attendance record and good grades. At school, Ming always had a smile on his face but at home, he was violent and erratic. He physically abused his siblings and even his own mother was deathly afraid of him. During the trial, Mei shared a hug with Mary and apologized to the Stauffers and the Wilkmans for her son’s actions.

“As a mother, if I had a son who did what Ming did, I would feel so horrible. I let her [Mei] know how much I feel for her. My suffering ended in seven weeks, but it lasts for the Shiue family forever.” — Mary Stauffer
Ming Sen ShiuePhoto byFacebook

Ming was convicted of all charges and sentenced to life in prison. Today, the 72-year-old sits in a jail cell suffering from arthritis and kidney failure.

The Stauffers moved to the Phillippines as planned. Beth and her little brother, Steve, grew up, got married, and had children of their own.

Despite everything she had endured, Mary found the strength to fight back against her abductor and ensured he will never be able to harm anyone ever again. Now 79 and a great-grandmother, Mary proved that women are capable of anything and will go the distance to protect the ones they love.

“No matter what has happened, no matter what anybody has done to you, that isn’t the thing that defines you. There is healing, there is love, and you can leave the resentment behind and just go on with your life.” — Mary Stauffer

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