Charles Lavenson

Charles Lavenson

On October 23, 2011, a biker found a man at the base of Madonna mountain on the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in Cerro San Luis Obispo. Cerro San Luis Obispo is a mountain in San Luis Obispo and part of a chain of volcanic mountains known as the Nine Sisters. It is a common place for biking and hiking in the area.

When police arrived they found 63 year old Charles Lavenson deceased at the bottom of the mountain near Lincoln and Mountain View Streets in San Luis Obispo. He had wounds on his face and head from some sort of blunt object, like a bat or pipe. A weapon was not found. His death has been classified as a possible homicide and police are looking for any information about Lavenson, and in particular what he did that day.

Lavenson lived in San Luis Obispo at a retirement home called Judson Terrace. He was considered friendly, smart and talkative. Lavenson spent a lot of time walking and hiking in the area and residents say that he often took the bus to Grover Beach, CA where he had a storage unit. He loved walking the beach by the ocean in the area or in Pismo Beach, CA and would often get a hotel room and stay the night in the area.

Sandy Medhurts, who worked at Judson Terrace, described Lavenson in The Tribune. She said, “Talking to him was like reading an encyclopedia,” she recalled. “He was very intelligent and well-educated. He could talk about things that happened hundreds of years ago. He knew all of the details and facts. He had once been a state park ranger and a librarian.”

Lavenson attended First Presbyterian Church, loved the outdoors and is survived by a brother and sister.

Police need information from anyone who saw Lavenson the day he was murdered so they can put together a timeline of events. They do know that at one point during the 23rd he went to a Chase Bank in downtown San Luis Obispo and took out cash. They consider robbery to be a possible motive in his death.

On the 23rd, Lavenson was wearing khaki pants, a button up short sleeved white shirt with blue stripes and brown shoes with white shoelaces. He also had a plastic keycard in his back pocket that police believe went to a hotel room. It was a nondescript card and police do not know what hotel it went to.

If you have any information in the death of Charles Lavenson please contact San Luis Obispo police at 805-781-7317 or via Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867. There is currently a $2,500.00 reward in this case.

More Information

Daniel, Stacy. (26 Oct 2011). “Robbery may be Motive in Death.” The Tribune,; acc: June 18, 2020. (Pic of Lavenson/quote)

Prado, Antonio A. (30 Oct 2011). “Detectives Talk to Hikers in SLO Homicide Case.” The Tribune,; acc: June 18, 2020.

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