Ming Shiue: Inside the Mind of a Psychopathic Killer

Ming Shiue was voted Most likely to Succeed in high school. And by all appearances, he seemed to be a well-rounded student and athlete.

But 15 years later, in 1980, Shiue kidnapped his former math teacher and her young daughter, imprisoning them for 53 days. Along the way, he murdered a young boy who happened to see the two tied up in the trunk of a car the day Shiue abducted them.

VIDEO: Dr. Paul Reitman talks about his encounter with convicted murderer Ming Shiue.Play
Face-to-Face With a Psychopath

As Shiue approaches what may be the end of a 30-year prison term, it remains an enigma how this seemingly normal teenager could commit these atrocious crimes.

"He went from being an all-American boy, playing football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and excelling at academics … to a real loner after high school. He had no friends," said Eileen Biernat, author of the book "Stalking Mary."

It was Shiue's inability to forge any meaningful relationships during his adolescence that led to depression, and fueled the delusions that would gradually intensify to the point where he lost touch with reality, said Paul Reitman, a psychologist who spent many hours evaluating Shiue for the prosecution.

SLIDESHOW: The Math Teacher Kidnapper

Experts said the best indication of mental health for a teenager is peer relationships. Despite Shiue's good grades and success at team sports, he had no friends.

"This was a young boy, probably, who was just dying for attention and acceptance and wasn't getting any from his peers," said Reitman, adding that Shiue became "tormented with inadequacy.

"He doesn't have social skills, so he gets delusional and fixated,'' said Reitman.


Shiue's became fixated on Mary Stauffer. She was not a former girlfriend, or even a friend. Stauffer had been his ninth grade algebra teacher.

Unknown to Stauffer, Shiue had fantasized about her for years, writing about her and stalking her.

Then, in the spring of 1980, Shiue kidnapped the object of his obsession, and her 8-year-old daughter, Beth.

"[Stauffer] was probably a wonderful teacher and probably paid him attention," said Reitman. "So in his mind, he begins this delusional fantasy that 'she loves me, we'll be a family.'"

Shiue documented his delusions in extensive writings -- stories that centered on motherly figures and teachers -- that had striking similarities to the ordeal he would force Stauffer and her daughter to live out.

Shiue was obsessed with his own sexual, psychopathic fantasies, said Pat Brown, a nationally recognized criminal profiler well versed on the case. "His very sadistic fantasy [was one] where he would have total power and control over one woman."

According to court records, "In more than one story, a woman has a child and submits to the assault to protect the child from harm. The victims are often teachers. The stories range from those in which a voluptuous woman has an affair with a student, often Ming Shiue himself, to stories of Shiue or other male characters violently raping women, engaging in sadistic violent sexual behavior."

Ming Shiue: Control and Manipulation

"Control is a major factor for psychopaths," said Brown. "That's one thing they lack in their regular lives."

"They don't have the control they would like, so they create their own game," she said. "Every psychopath is mostly about power and control. If you're useful, they'll use you and manipulate you. And if you're in the way, they may eliminate you."

This was the case with Jason Wilkman, a 6-year-old boy who inadvertently crossed Shiue's path and whom Shiue murdered.

"The little boy simply got in his way," said Brown. "A psychopath has no empathy for anybody else, so it's collateral damage."

Experts said Shiue lacked normal moral restraints. He felt no remorse, which made it possible to act upon his fantasies. Psychopaths are "not concerned about the other person's feelings or the well-being of the person," Brown said. "They have no empathy. So the other person is merely a pawn to them."

They "manipulate everything they can in order to get what they want," she said.

According to Brown, abducting Stauffer's daughter was no accident. With the child in tow, Shiue expected Mary Stauffer to be more compliant. "You take the child so that you can have control over the female, because she will do a lot more if she's afraid for her child's life."

It was a need for control and power, not a desire for sex, that motivated Shiue's behavior while he held Mary and Beth Stauffer captive.

He raped Mary Stauffer daily, not because of an interest in sex but rather because he wanted to humiliate her and exercise his power over her, Brown said.

Victim to Kidnapper: 'I love you'

He "has partial insight from time to time that what he's doing is wrong," said Reitman. "He wants to rationalize and convince himself that she loves him."

Shiue manipulated Stauffer into saying, "I love you," pressuring her to be more affectionate to ease his own guilt.

He even went so far as to place a plastic bag over Beth's head, only removing it after her mother kissed him on the lips.

"He wanted to watch [Stauffer] squirm. He wanted to watch her struggle. And he just kept playing with her," said Brown.

Sadist and Delusional

Amid his cruel mind games, Shiue sometimes showed some humanity, mainly toward young Beth, letting her watch TV and play board games, even allowing her to call her father.

A complicated split ruled Shiue's mind: He was both a sadist and delusional, experts said.

"He bounces back and forth through his being sadistic, wanting to punish her, 'She harmed me' to 'I love her,'" said Reitman. "He can have those moments where he wants to inflict humiliation and pain, because that's an arousal for him, but in his mind, he also loved her."

When Shiue encountered Stauffer in court, he attacked her on two separate occasions, releasing his "homicidal rage" and revealing that that he was deluded, said Reitman. "He really thought at times that she was his lover. He wanted that. That was his wishful thinking."

Three Decades Later: What Lies Ahead for Shiue

It's been nearly three decades since the kidnappings. Is Stauffer still occupying Shuie's mind?

"He fixated on [her] for 15 years. He kidnapped her, raped her, threatened to kill her daughter," said Reitman. "He killed a 6-year-old boy. He butchered her on the stand because she lied -- in his mind. He might feel that he spent 30 years in prison because she lied. We don't know."

It is also unknown how Shiue will adjust to a life beyond bars. "There is no treatment for a sexually sadistic psychopath, absolutely none," said Brown. "He will have the same fantasies for his entire life, till the day he dies.

"Sexual sadists do not change," said Brown. "They love the power and control and they're fixated on their particular fantasies."