Murdered Los Osos mother’s unanswered plea for help
May 25, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
Shortly before her son allegedly strangled and killed her, a Los Osos mother sent an email to San Luis Obispo County supervisors detailing problems her son had with drug use and asking the supervisors to support Sunny Acres, Dan De Vaul’s 72-acre ranch and sober living facility.
In early 2012, Michael Van Heuver, 23, showed up at De Vaul’s ranch addicted to drugs and suffering from mental health issues, De Vaul said. Michael Van Heuver stayed for about a week before taking off for a day, returning, and leaving again.
He returned again agitated on methamphetamine, used a hose to soak a gravel road and then rolled in the mud and rocks. When approached, he became paranoid and began running around the property at times hiding, De Vaul said.
De Vaul called sheriff deputies who transported Michael Van Heuver to county mental health where he spent less then 24 hours before being returned to Sunny Acres.
“He needed to be living in the cottages (small garden sheds deemed uninhabitable by the county) not in a room with three or four others,” De Vaul said. “The house was to busy for his mental health needs.”
Last year, Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ordered De Vaul to remove people he was allowing to stay in non-code compliant structures until several county health and building code violations could be corrected. De Vaul was then forced to evict 15 people from the property, many of whom began living in their cars or tents.
On February 4, Lisa Van Heuver emailed county supervisors detailing how her son had become addicted to drugs after a shop accident at Morro Bay High School in 2005. During a class, a car fell on Michael Van Heuver and crushed his back.
“The teacher and the district were found negligent and my son was awarded money which the lawyers, doctors, and expert witnesses took all the money,” Lisa Van Heuver wrote. “It was a very bad blow to my son and I.”
Lisa Van Heuver took her son to county mental health the next day, but again he was quickly released.
“This is a mothers plea to you, help support Sunny Acres for kids like mine,” Lisa Van Heuver wrote.
Lisa Van Heuver died on May 12 from injuries she allegedly suffered at the hands of her son during an altercation on April 27.
San Luis Obispo County does not have any in house facilities for dual diagnosed patients suffering from mental health illnesses and drug addiction. And while several facilities of this type exist in neighboring counties, the facilities often include higher costs to out of county patients pricing them out of the reach of families like the Van Heuvers.