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.
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.
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."
"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.