The Terrifying Story Of Mary Stauffer's 1980 Kidnapping

On the afternoon of May 16, 1980, 36-year-old Mary Stauffer and her 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, had just left a beauty salon in St. Paul Minnesota, when they were approached by a man with a gun. As reported by Goalcast, the man threatened Stauffer with the gun and forced her and her daughter into his vehicle.

The man made Stauffer drive his car to a different location, where he bound the woman and her daughter and forced them into the vehicle's trunk, according to A&E. As their abductor drove away from the scene, Stauffer and her daughter began screaming, in an attempt to draw someone's attention to the fact that they were trapped inside the trunk. However, the only person who heard them was their abductor.

The man, who was later identified as 29-year-old Ming Sen Shiue, stopped the car, opened the trunk, and placed duct tape over Stauffer and her daughter's mouths. He also warned them to be quiet before he closed the trunk and continued driving. Goalcast reports Shiue had to stop a second time when he heard more noises coming from inside the trunk.

Shiue stopped at an Anoka County park and opened the trunk to discover Stauffer had begun freeing her daughter from the restraints. While Shiue was reapplying the restraints, 6-year-old Jason Wilkman approached the vehicle to see what Shiue was doing. When he reacted to seeing the woman and the little girl inside the trunk, Shiue grabbed the boy and crammed him inside the trunk with them. 

Mary Stauffer was Ming Sen Shiue's algebra teacher

Ming Sen Shiue drove to Carlos Avery State Wildlife Park with all three victims in his trunk. As reported by Goalcoast, he took Jason Wilkman out of the trunk and bludgeoned him to death with a metal bar, leaving the child's corpse in the woods. He then drove Mary Stauffer and Elizabeth to his Roseville, Minnesota, home. According to A&E, Shiue locked Stauffer and her daughter in a small closet –- where they would remain for the better part of 53 days.

During the initial abduction, Stauffer did not recognize her abductor. However, he eventually revealed he was one of her former students. ABC News reports Stauffer was Shiue's ninth-grade algebra teacher. Although she did not recognize him, Shiue had become obsessed with his former teacher, as he did not get a good grade in her class. According to Shiue, the grade he received in Stauffer's class prevented him from receiving a scholarship. He claimed that he was ultimately sent to Vietnam, where he became a P.O.W.

As he blamed Stauffer for what he perceived as a number of failures in his life, he began stalking her. As reported by Goalcast, he attempted to abduct his former teacher on at least four other occasions before he was successful. He also physically attacked Stauffer's in-laws at one point. However, it was never reported as he threatened to kill them if they told anyone.

Mary Stauffer escaped after 53 days

While being held captive, Mary Stauffer was repeatedly raped by Ming Sen Shiue. Although Stauffer did not know it at the time, ABC News reports Shiue filmed all of the assaults. Stauffer said Shiue's attacks grew more violent, and devastating, every day. However, she was thankful that her daughter was spared from the abuse.

Stauffer became convinced that Shiue planned to eventually kill her and her daughter. She knew the only way they would leave Shuie's house alive was if they escaped. As reported by ABC news, Stauffer saw her opportunity when Shuie left for a shopping trip, which she expected to last long enough for her and her daughter to escape.

Although she and her daughter were tied together with a chain, Stauffer realized they could escape the closet by removing the hinges from the door. Once she got the hinges out, Stauffer and her daughter made their way to a telephone and called authorities. Stauffer told the operator who she was and that she and her daughter had been kidnapped and held captive.

Stauffer and her daughter, who were still chained together, walked out the front door and waited in Shiue's yard for authorities to arrive. Shiue was ultimately arrested and charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of murder in the death of 6-year-old Jason Wilkman. According to ABC News, Stauffer agreed to testify against Shiue at both the kidnapping and murder trials. However, Shiue was not done with Stauffer.

Ming Sen Shiue was sentenced to 40 years

During the kidnapping trial, ABC News reports Ming Sen Shiue attempted to attack Mary Stauffer. Fortunately, he was detained before he could reach her. At the murder trial, however, Shiue managed to smuggle knife into the courtroom. Author Eileen Biernat, who wrote a book about the kidnapping and murder, said while Stauffer was on the stand, Shiue " ... jumped up from the defense table, flew across the courtroom and held a knife to her throat."

In an interview with ABC News, Stauffer said, "The knife must have been very sharp, because I didn't feel the pain. I felt the skin separate, and the blood began to flow ... the cut came from down in the center of my chin up to the side of my mouth, and then out into my cheek." Although she was seriously injured, and required 62 stitches, Stauffer survived the attack. Shiue was ultimately convicted on two counts of kidnapping and one count of murder. He was subsequently sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Interestingly, it was eventually revealed that Shiue's supposed motive for abducting Stauffer was fabricated. Although Stauffer was his ninth-grade algebra teacher, there was no indication the grade he received in her class was unexpectedly low or that it prevented him from receiving a scholarship. As reported by ABC News, Shiue excelled in academics and sports. So much so that his classmates voted him, "most likely to succeed."