The stroke of a judge's pen on Wednesday put to rest one of Minnesota's most notorious criminal cases and ended a three-decade nightmare for Mary Stauffer and her daughter Beth.
Ming Sen Shiue will be committed indefinitely to a secured sex offender program in Moose Lake, Minn., should he ever be released from federal prison, where he has already served 30 years for kidnapping and repeatedly raping Mary Stauffer and killing 6-year-old Jason Wilkman.
Anoka County District Judge Jenny Walker Jasper ruled that Shiue, who turns 60 next month and is eligible for parole, has an utter lack of control over his sexual impulses.
While Mary Stauffer, 67, was grateful for the judge's decision, she said "the reality is this won't be over until he's dead.
"The fact of the matter is there is no security in any human institution," she said. "The only security is in the Lord."
More than 550 people are in the Moose Lake program, and no one placed there since it was created in 1993 has ever been released. Minnesota is one of about 20 states allowing civil commitment following a prison sentence.
Shiue's crime spree shocked Minnesotans in 1980 when he acted on a longtime sexual fantasy about Mary Stauffer, his former high school algebra teacher. He kidnapped Stauffer and her 8-year-old daughter, holding them for seven weeks in his Roseville home. He killed Jason Wilkman after the boy saw the Stauffers in the trunk of Shiue's car when he stopped in a park during the kidnapping.
During his trial, Shiue attacked Mary Stauffer with a knife while she was on the witness stand. Her wounds required 62 stitches. A religious woman, Stauffer vowed this horrific period in her life wouldn't define her.
Because Shiue became eligible for parole in July, Anoka County officials filed a petition to have him committed to the Moose Lake program if he were ever released. For a federal life sentence like Shiue's, parole can be denied only if the offender frequently violated major prison rules or the Parole Commission in Washington, D.C., believes there is "reasonable probability" the person will reoffend if released.
In her 40-page ruling, Walker Jasper raised concerns that several key questions pertaining to parole weren't clearly answered during the seven-day commitment trial. She wanted to know if Shiue could receive sex offender treatment in federal prison if he weren't paroled or if and when he might be paroled. Shiue doesn't have an approved release plan, and he can't be considered for parole until a plan is approved.
The Parole Commission will hear Shiue's case next week. It is expected to determine whether Shiue will remain in federal custody, be recommended for admission to the federal sex offender program or be paroled. If paroled, he will be taken by the Anoka County Sheriff's Office directly from federal prison to the program in Moose Lake.
Rick Mattox, Shiue's attorney, said Wednesday that he had read the ruling, but declined to comment. Assistant County Attorney Janice Allen, who tried the commitment case with Robert Goddell, said Walker Jasper's ruling was very comprehensive and well reasoned. She said it addresses all the criteria set out in statute and by the Minnesota appellate courts that are relevant to determination of whether a person meets criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous person and a sexual psychopathic personality. Those findings ranged from Shiue's impulsive behavior to his failure to appreciate the consequences of personal acts.
"The public can now be assured that Mr. Shiue will not be released until he has completed inpatient sex offender treatment in a secure facility," Allen said.
During the trial, the judge heard from Shiue, Beth Stauffer and three psychologists who interviewed and evaluated Shiue. Two of the psychologists agreed he needed to be committed to Moose Lake, ticking off a variety of tests that measured his chances of reoffending and determined if he had a psychopathic personality. The third psychologist agreed Shiue needed intensive treatment, but not in a secured program like Moose Lake.
A key blow to Shiue's defense was that he has never pursued sex offender treatment in prison. In her ruling, Walker Jasper said outside the federal prison sex offender treatment program, there is no less restrictive treatment option other than the program at Moose Lake. She said the court had concerns about the treatment provided at the program, "as it does not appear anyone has ever successfully completed the program and been released."
The commitment trial was an emotional roller coaster for Mary and Beth Stauffer, who attended each day with relatives and friends. Mary Stauffer cringed when she heard graphic testimony about the rapes and learned for the first time that Shiue had planned to kill them. Before that could happen, she and her daughter escaped.
During one break in the commitment hearing, Mary Stauffer sought out Shiue's mother. Stauffer said she understood the pain she must feel at seeing Shiue, voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by his high school classmates, confined for most of his life.
Relieved and appreciative of the ruling, Beth Stauffer doesn't believe Shiue will ever be freed. "I always told my kids the right decision would be made," she said.
Mary Stauffer has already written a letter to the Parole Commission, making sure its members know that Shiue killed a little boy, repeatedly raped her, attacked her in a courtroom and paid somebody to kill witnesses involved in the murder and kidnapping trials.
She said she remains troubled by Shiue's testimony last summer that he had redeemed himself.
"It sounded really noble," she said. "But from a Christian standpoint or psychological standpoint, nobody heals themselves from a psychological personality disorder."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465