H-SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

May 24, 2012 8:33 PM by Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

Los Osos mother plead for Sunny Acres support before her murder

A letter has surfaced showing a Los Osos woman tried to help her mentally-ill son just months before investigators say he killed her.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies say Michael Van Heuver, 23, assaulted his mother, Lisa Van Heuver, 56, last month at her home in the 1800 block of 7th Street in Los Osos. She died from her injuries May 15 and her son plead not guilty this week to murder.

KSBY obtained a copy of the letter from Dan DeVaul at the Sunny Acres ranch, which has been a sober living facility.

Lisa emailed this to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on February 4.

It was a strong plea to county leaders. In the letter, she writes her 23-year-old son was living at Sunny Acres, trying to get off drugs and get sober. She says he became addicted to pain medication after a car fell on him during auto shop class in high school in 2005, crushing his back.

In part of the letter, she explains, "It has come to my attention that Sunny Acres has been under threat by the county. Please help and support this place. This is a mother's plea to you. Help support Sunny Acres for kids like mine."

The county responded stating, "I only know to [sic] well how much a facility like Sunny Acres is needed in this county. That said, this office, with the help of county staff has tried repeatedly for many years to help Mr. DeVaul get into compliance so that he could continue to help the people he claims he cares so much about."

DeVaul admits there's no guarantee he would have been able to help Michael Van Heuver get clean, but says the letter shows the importance Sunny Acres to the community.

Michael Van Heuver is due back in court on June 7.

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