Ming Sen Shiue was born in Taiwan but his family immigrated to Minnesota when he was a young boy. He attended Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville, Minnesota, and while attending this school, he developed a crush on his algebra teacher, Mary Stauffer. This crush developed into an obsession and this obsession followed him through to adulthood.
On 16 May, 1980, Shiue managed to track Mary down. She had been in a beauty salon in St. Paul with her 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Mary’s family had been scheduled to leave for the Philippines on a four-year Baptist missionary trip and she and her daughter were treating themselves to a haircut before the big trip. Upon leaving the beauty salon, Ming approached Mary and Elizabeth armed with a gun.1
15 years had passed and at first, Mary didn’t recognise Ming. Initially, she thought that he possibly wanted to steal her car so she handed over her keys. Ming, however, had other plans. He forced Mary and Elizabeth into the car and ordered Mary to drive north. Mary drove to a remote wooded area in Anoka County where Ming tied her up alongside Elizabeth and stuffed them into the trunk of the car.
Ming drove a short distance to an undeveloped area near Roseville to check on Mary and Elizabeth. As he was doing this, two little boys approached the car. One of the boys stayed at the front of the car while the second boy – 6-year-old Jason Wilkman – came to the trunk to see what was going on. Tragically, Ming grabbed Jason and shoved him in the trunk alongside Mary and Elizabeth.
Ming then drove to the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. He grabbed Jason out of the trunk and beat him to death with a metal rod in the wooded area nearby. From here, Ming drove Mary and Elizabeth to his apartment in Roseville. They were shackled and chained together in a back bedroom closet which measured only 4 feet by 21 inches.
By this point, Mary and Elizabeth’s family were frantic. Mary’s husband, Irv, had called the beauty salon and discovered that they had left there safe and well. However, they had never returned home. Irv called around local hospitals working on the assumption they had potentially had an accident before calling police to report them missing.
By the following day, police had linked the disappearance of Jason with the disappearance of Mary and Elizabeth. By this point, his body had not yet been discovered. At the scene where Jason was abducted, Mary’s license plate was discovered; it had been torn off by heavy brush during the quick getaway.
While police were attempting to find Jason, Mary and Elizabeth, Ming had revealed his identity to Mary. Over the course of the next two months, Ming repeatedly raped Mary, telling her that he wanted her to feel “dirty, debased and degraded.” As time progressed, Ming relaxed the strict rules within the apartment. While Mary and Elizabeth were ordered to remain bound together, they were allowed to eat upstairs in the kitchen and were allowed to shower. “He was weirdly affectionate in a sick, parental way,” Elizabeth later said.
At the time, Ming ran an electronics store and he eventually had to go back to work. On the 7th of July, after Ming left for work, Mary and Elizabeth managed to free themselves from their binds and call the police. When the officer arrived, Mary was asked if Jason was with them. While Mary had known that Jason had been removed from the trunk, she hadn’t realised that he had been murdered. “That’s when I knew that Jason never made it home and was most likely dead…” she said.
Ming was swiftly apprehended and ordered to stand trial. While awaiting trial, he tried several times to have Mary and Elizabeth killed so that they could not testify against him during trial. During the ensuing trial, Ming had somehow been able to smuggle a pocketknife into the court room and as Mary was on the witness stand testifying against him, he slashed her face. He inflicted a wound that would need 62 stitches. Following the outburst, Ming was bound to his chair during court proceedings. 2
Ming was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years for the murder and another 30 years for the kidnapping. He had reached a plea agreement wherein he directed investigators to Jason’s body in return for first-degree murder being taken off the table. This meant that Ming could be up for parole in as little as 30 years.
In 2010, Ming was back in court for a commitment hearing as he was up for a parole consideration in the summer. Prosecutors were seeking to keep Ming locked up under the state’s civil commitment law, meant for dangerous sex offenders. This would mean that if Ming were ever released, he would be committed to the state’s sex offender program. When he entered court, he was using a walker and had shackles attached to his feet.
Elizabeth publicly spoke during the hearing about how the incident still haunts her. She was now a married mother and said that Ming had threatened to hunt her and her own children down if he was ever caught, imprisoned and then released. She said: “I’m a mother today. Everything he ever told us during the kidnapping, he did. I don’t know that I’d let my children go out to a park, to a mall, if he were released.”3
Ming testified that he had been rehabilitated after serving decades in a high security prison. He apologized for his crimes and recounted them in details. “The remorse and sorrow remains heavy on me. I regret acting in that matter. I chose to do wrong. I had no concern for anybody.” He also said that he would be willing to undergo sexual offender treatment and would have done so before but it wasn’t available in the prison he was being held.
Ming’s lawyer, Rick Mattox, said that Ming was now old and infirm and suffered from arthritis and kidney failure and was unlikely to re-offend. He announced that he believed that Ming was rehabilitated and could acclimatise to the outside world. Two psychological experts, however, said that he should be sent to Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program in Moose Lake.
Ultimately, the judge ruled that Ming was a sexually dangerous person with a sexual psychopathic personality. She decided that if Ming were ever paroled, he would be committed to the state’s sex offender program.4 The decision was a welcome relief to Mary and Elizabeth. “I don’t want to say we’re afraid. We don’t know what could have happened in 30 years… But by the same token, my family knows the threat is real,” said Mary.5
- Duluth News Tribune, 3 October, 2019 – “Tale of Terror”
- UPI, 12 February, 1981 – “An Anoka County District Judge Instructed Jurors to Ignore”
- Minnesota Public Radio, 19 April, 2010 – “Victim Speaks About Bizarre 1980 Kidnap-Murder Case”
- 29 September, 2010 – “Judge Rules Shiue Should Enter Sex Offender Program”
- St. Paul Pioneer Press, 6 March, 2010 – “Scarred by a Killer”