79-year-old victim suffered severe burn injuries over 17 percent of her body

SAN LUIS OBISPO — District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Matthew Leroy Ehens (DOB 10/11/1982) was convicted by a plea of no contest in court to felony charges of torture and elder abuse of his 79-year-old foster mother.

On Aug. 2, 2019, during an argument with his foster mother at their home in Arroyo Grande, Ehens poured a pot of boiling peanut oil on her upper body and face. He then stabbed her in the back with a large kitchen knife before fleeing in his car and eventually engaging in a high-speed chase with law enforcement until Ehens crashed his vehicle and was arrested.

The 79-year-old victim suffered severe burn injuries over 17 percent of her body and received extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization for a month and a skin grafting operation.


“The victim is a courageous survivor of a horrible crime inflicted on her by a person whom she raised,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “Our community will not tolerate elder abuse. I encourage those who suffer from or witness elder abuse to report these crimes to law enforcement.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1 of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, the Honorable Jacquelyn H. Duffy presiding. Ehens is facing a sentence of 8 years to life in state prison.

The case was investigated by the Arroyo Grande Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County Sherriff’s Office with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Kristin Barnard, with substantial support from the District Attorney’s Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center.