How brave mum and daughter survived daily rape hell
Mary Stauffer's life became a living nightmare on May 16, 1980.
The teacher and missionary from Minnesota in the US was leaving a beauty salon with her eight-year-old daughter Beth when they were abducted at gunpoint and stuffed in the boot of a car.
The kidnapper turned out to be Stauffer's former ninth-grade algebra student Ming Sen Shiue who, over the years, became increasingly obsessed with the-36-year-old.
The horrifying kidnapping is the subject of a new Lifetime film titled Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story starring How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan.
At first, Mary didn't realise that Shiue, then 29, was a student in her high school math class 15 years prior, she told Fox News.
"I had been away from the classroom for 15 years," she explained.
"We were five days off leaving for a trip to the Philippines and so this was to be our last time to get our hair cut before we left … When we came out of the beauty parlour and went to our car to unlock it, this man came up with a gun.
"No, I did not recognise him. I really didn't know at that point who he was or what he wanted other than he had a gun held at my daughter's side, which was pretty scary for me."
Beth said, at first, she believed Shiue simply wanted to rob them of their car. However, he wanted much more.
"The reality was, there was no place for me to understand what was really happening at the time of the abduction," she said. "I knew I was scared, and I know she was scared and I knew he was angry. That's really what I knew at that moment."
Shiue demanded Mary drive his car to a remote location. He then bound the mother and daughter, stuffing them into the boot. Shiue began to drive, but then stopped the car to reprimand them for praying too loudly. Shiue then covered their mouths with duct tape and continued driving. Mary managed to partially free her daughter when Shiue stopped the car. He opened the trunk and threatened to kill them both.
At that moment two young boys noticed the commotion. One of them, six-year-old Jason Wilkman, walked near the car and had a close look in the boot, seeing Mary and Beth. After Jason said "whoa", Shiue threw him into the trunk and continued driving. Jason began sobbing as Mary attempted to console the frightened child. The next time Shiue stopped the car, he took Jason out. The boy was fatally struck on the head with a metal rod and his body was abandoned in the woods.
When Shiue arrived at his home, Mary and Beth were shackled and locked in a closet. Mary was raped daily. Shiue filmed the assaults, which at times lasted for hours, said the outlet. Mary and Beth were trapped in the house of horrors for 53 days. Shiue, who owned a local electronics store, kept his dark secret from everyone.
"When he would take her out for the rape sessions, he never had me know about any of that," Beth said. "They kept it from me. I was locked away in a closet, so I was removed from it. Those times I was alone … there was fear and loneliness … He also threatened to kill us. 'If you try to escape, I will kill you', or he threatened mum, 'If you don't do what I want, I'll kill Beth', or tell me, 'If you try to escape, I'll kill your mother'. The threat was there, but the reality is killing us was not his end goal. His end goal was he was obsessed with my mother and he wanted us to be with him."
Mary said she credited her faith for keeping her alive while being held in captivity and tortured during those 53 days. She and Beth kept prayer vigils daily and shared stories from the Bible.
Three hundred officers and volunteers initially began searching for the group, local newspaper Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported at the time, stating Mary's husband, Irv, was initially a suspect until he took a lie-detector test and passed.
Eventually, Shiue relaxed his strict house rules. Mary and Beth, still bound together, were allowed to shower by the 10th day. Shiue also provided Beth a black-and-white TV and brought her board games.
"As an eight-year-old child, it became evident to me really quickly, if we're difficult, he gets more angry and things are worse for us," Beth said. "If we're nice and if we're pleasant, he becomes more pleasant. The truth of the matter is, the more kind we were to somebody who is being awful to us, the better our situation was."
"I think maybe he hoped that we would become his family and forget about our other family and just be his," Mary said.
But everything changed on July 7. Mary, still chained to her daughter, suddenly remembered how her father used to take hinge pins out of doors. She then broke open the door while Shiue was away at work.
"I knew the principle of how a door comes off, but I thought, 'Not very likely that the hinge pin would just come undone, but I thought it's an idea - maybe the Lord has given me this idea," Mary said. "I held the door with one hand and I pulled the hinge pin with the other. It came out just like it was greased … it was a miracle. Beth, she panicked right away … She said, 'Mama, don't do it. Mummy, you know what he said. If he finds us escaping, he's going to kill us. Just wait for the police'."
"Then I did a nasty thing, perhaps in the eyes of an eight-year-old," Mary continued. "I slapped her cheek because she … panicked. She was utterly panicked. I thought, 'I have to get some reality into her'. I sat her down in the chair and said, 'Listen, Beth, if God has given us this way of escape, we have to take it. Sure, it's dangerous. If Ming comes home and finds us escaping, he's going to kill us. We know that, but if this is God's way, he's going to take care of us. But I can't fight against you. We have to work together in this'."
The pair were finally able to escape and call the police. People magazine reported Shiue was taken into custody and later found guilty of kidnapping and sentenced to 30 years behind bars. The outlet revealed Shiue was also sentenced to 40 years for Jason's murder. The child's remains were found after Shiue's capture, reported A&E. Shiue was denied parole in 2010.
Mary said she and Beth were determined to move forward with their lives.
" … After tragedy, there is hope. Tragedy doesn't need to define our lives. We can go on with life. God has been so good to us. We've been able to go on with our ministry, with our lives, with our family. We have had a wonderful life after the kidnapping too," she said.
"It's very easy to let the tragedies of our lives define us or become the thing that … creates who we are, but they don't have to," Beth said. "It can be a thing that happened in our life. It can be something that helps us grow. But good things can still happen after tragedy and (you) can still have a good life. He had … 53 days, where our lives were basically hell, where he had us and he had control, but he does not get to have the rest of our lives."
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence or sexual assault, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission