Mary Stauffer stalked by former math student Ming Shiue

Mother survives 53 days trapped in closet with her daughter

Trapped once again in another dark, confined space, Mary pounded on the door, demanding, "Who are you? Why are we here?"

Not receiving any response from the strange man who had taken them and who now stood on the other side of the door, Mary stopped her pounding. As she shifted her weight, her foot bumped against a plastic pail. When her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she understood that he'd left an empty bucket and a roll of toilet paper for her and Beth.


SATURDAY MORNING, May 17, 1980, the day following the abduction, Shiue brought buttered toast and fruit juice to the closet for Mary and Beth.

Once again, Mary questioned who he was, why he'd taken them, and again begged him to let them go. She promised that if he would simply drop them off in a public place, she would never say a word to anyone about him. He laughed at her and made it clear that he was not going to let Mary contact her family.

When they'd finished eating, Shiue blindfolded Mary and took her out of the closet, leaving Beth alone in the dark. Beth cried for her mother, but Shiue ignored her. In spite of Mary's protests, he led her blindfolded into the living room, shoved her to the floor, and tied her hands above her head to the leg of a couch. He left her lying there while he set up videotape equipment focusing on his captive.

With videotape running, the previously silent Ming Shiue began a wide-ranging discussion that lasted three hours, culminating in the prolonged and brutal rape of Mary Stauffer.

Shiue: Okay, let's go back to specifics now. Uh, fourth hour mean anything to you? Just before lunch?

Mary: I don't remember much about the first year; I remember the second year my general math class was—

Shiue: Why do you keep talking about general math class? Those flunkies. I want to talk about people that, that had potential. Again, it may sound selfish, but I had potential and you gave attention to all the flunkies.

Mary: Well, I really feel badly now because as I think about it now, that's probably true. The students that I remember are almost all the ones who gave me problems. And why should that be? Because being the kind of person I am, I mean, with my background, I should have been interested in the bright students.

Shiue: I know it's 15 years later, but it's burned into my mind, okay? I can name the people; I can picture you in the classroom. I can see how the desks were placed. See, that type of thing burns into your mind.

Mary: Goodness.

Eventually, Shiue revealed that he had been a student in Mary Stauffer's ninth-grade math class 15 years earlier at Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville, and that he wanted revenge for the grade she had given him a decade and a half earlier—he wanted to "unburden his hatred" for her. Shiue also revealed that he resented Mary because she had not encouraged him when he told her about a mathematic formula he'd developed.

When Mary still failed to recognize Shiue, he responded with anger and frustration. He'd spent the last 15 years of his life yearning for Mary Stauffer, secretly following her and believing that she loved him, too. He was horrified to find that she had no idea who he was or that he had been one of her former students.

Mary, trying to placate him, finally agreed that she remembered him. But Shiue did not buy it.


SHIUE GAVE MARY paper on which to write a draft of a letter. When he approved her wording and was convinced she had not included any secret message, he had her write the copy of the letter they would send on a tablet she had in her purse. He wore rubber gloves whenever he handled the paper, the envelope, and the stamp.

He was very careful and very clever.

On Tuesday, May 20—four days after his wife and daughter were abducted—Irv Stauffer received the following letter in his wife's handwriting. It was postmarked the Monday after Mary and Beth were taken—May 19, 1980, Minneapolis, MN 55401, and had been mailed from a busy downtown Minneapolis post office box.

Dear Irv,

I suppose you're wondering why Beth and I did not return home after getting Beth's hair cut yesterday. We decided to drive to a quiet place and think for a while. It's been such a busy time with packing and trying to get ready to go, that I just felt as though we needed time to rest and think. This past 24 hours we have spent a lot of time resting and thinking through this past year and our future plans. It has been good for us and the Lord has been with us and is teaching us many things.

Please keep on with our present flight plans Wednesday noon and we will try to be home Wednesday morning in time to get ready to leave. I'm sorry it has to be this way, but things have been moving so fast, and I needed time to reflect even though the main burden of packing falls on you.

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