Murdered Los Osos mother’s unanswered plea for help

May 25, 2012

Lisa Van Heuver

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.

Dan De Vaul

“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.

Michael Van Heuver

“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.


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asthecrowphlies

So who was her attorney ?


willieslo

asthecrowphlies


I’ll tell you how it was done with my wife

She was seriously injured in a car accident, she was rear ended, a cut and dry case.

Mckerian Law Firm handled the case, they told us its one third unless they have to go to court, and if a court appearance was necessary then they would get fifty percent.

They needlessly filed a court trial “justifying the fifty percent” (at the very start!) then they had us go to their neurologist.

The regular doctor got $10K, The Neurologist got 10K, the law firm got 50% (NEVER HAVING TO APPEAR IN COURT-merely from $130 filing for a court trial that NEVER happened!), we got NOT enough to even cover medical bills and she suffers today from the injuries to this date.


cheseburger

Who was the adversary insurance company, they may have been under insured, sounds fishy, I’d like to hear the other side of the story, and not to be a typo freak but if your going to slander some body too make yourself feel better, spell their name right, it’s James McKiernan, also, you could of represented yourself, if you could read and write very easily.


trebor86

So is everyone else responsible because this kid was so far gone on drugs he murders his mom?


Short of the Second Coming of Christ, what other answer is there except to break out the FEMA camps? Merge them with the federal, state and county penal facilities? The island?


SLOrunner

Wow! I read the comments above and some of them just plain ignore the horrible affects drugs have on

Good kids, and ending up with a senseless death. I cant understand the blaming of law enforcement for this situation, and then quoting DeVaul ” he needed to be living in the cottages, not in a room with three or four people”…. So tell me, how does a rational thinking person take this quote from a non mental health

professional and turn it into an indictment on the Court, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, and whatever

else makes you feel victimized??


No matter how sad this situation is, the blanket blaming by non involved armchair ‘experts’ will never

change this type of situation. Only getting out there and and supporting our mental health system and our

addiction recovery agencies! What have you done?


Maxfusion

Have you ever considered those “mental health professionals” you allude to don’t have the answers? Based on the results, I’m inclined to go with Mr. De Vaul.


justme

Two huge enemies of modern society at work here. 1. A super-destructive drug rampant in the U.S. 2. A mental health system that doesn’t really exist in deed.

Notice DeVaul’s evaluation of the kid, probably spot on due to past experience. Without the County’s weakening effect in the past at Sunny Acres the kid could have come up for air.

This is just about an ugly cause and effect as it gets, Wow.

RIP, Mom, you gave your everything.


Slowerfaster

Blame St. Ronnie the Reagan. He was the one that shuttered the best mental health facilities for supposedly budgetary reasons. Threw people in crisis situations out on the streets to fend for themselves, so the weak ones died and the stronger ones turned to violence and criminality.


Reagan and his buddies were OK , though in their gated communities and secluded ranches .


cheseburger

” a car fell on Michael Van Heuver and crushed his back.Michael Van Heuver”


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.”


“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.


” a car fell on Michael Van Heuver and crushed his back,.Michael Van Heuver”


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.”


“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.


This is so terrible, worse then a bad B movie, what can we do? Seems boycott lawyers and doctors, but how do that and live? Noor Clinic Palm Street, self examinations, and self education about what’s good for yourself, eating healthy and staying off crank!


This kid, back crushed or not should have been in a different situation than with his poor mother.

I am wondering what his prior criminal and violence record looked like, even the sealed Juvenal record.


“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.”


RIP, Lisa may you rest in peace. Another victim, of greed or just looking the other way, why can’t we all just help each other like before the war, to me it is getting scary just to drive.

My sincerest condolences.


womanwhohasbeenthere

This type of thing happens a lot, not usually with such disastrous results as murder but with a great deal of harm anyway. Law enforcement is no help, either. Unless they can make money on an arrest or fine, they don’t want to be bothered. The local mental health system is not equipped to handle this. This lady lost her life and the system failed her – and her son. My condolences to the rest of the family.


SLOBIRD

What a sad story this unfortunate situation is. For all of you that think we don’t need sites like Mr. De Vaul’s better think again. I was in downtown SLO last weekend and it was so depressing with homeless sitting everywhere with their signs and a couple going through a garbage can (in front of Gap, Apple, Ross, Mission Plaza, etc.) that I left and couldn’t eat as it was so depressing. Decided to go to Morro Bay and watch the otters and seagulls instead. What a problem!


racket

Seagulls and panhandlers seem to have a lot in common – at least in their contacts with me.


trebor86

Having been that poor myself, i can sympathize. But there is a reason for building codes. Maybe even tents are better than substandard housing, but i don’t think legalizing shanty towns is the answer.


And sometimes people would rather be homeless than abide by the behavioral standards that are required of them.


zaphod

behavior standards – economic realities.

hard ass attitude required


mkaney

Wow I’d like to extend a warm thank you to all the self righteous opponents of Sunny Acres who feel that compliance is the most important thing in a community. If I were to express what I really think about folks like you, I would be forever banned from this comments section.


On a more positive note, thank you to Karen for writing this story and taking the time to understand and show the connection between self-interest and greed disguised as public interest, and the effect it has when you consider the big picture.


pasoparent5

Once again, mkaney, I can set our past differences of opinion aside and agree with you wholeheartedly. Well said.

Maybe Christine Mullholland and her NIMBY friends will also read your comment.


MaryMalone

PasoP5, I agree with you and mkaney. Great posts, both of you.


danika

I am in total agreement with all comments above. Mkaney, very well said.


I hope Judge Crandall understands the impact of his decision now. Compliance over life…


trebor86

i wouldn’t be bothered by your opinion, as well meaning people are often still very wrong in what they say and do.


As the world turns

People are in abusive situations and try to get help; only to be abused again by the legal system.