Erin Patterson arrested over suspected mushroom poisoning deaths

Nov 02, 2023
A prime suspect in an alleged mushroom poisoning case has been arrested. Source: Getty Images

Erin Patterson has been arrested by police as part of an ongoing investigation. The Leongatha woman has been under scrutiny by law enforcement following the hospitalisations and subsequent deaths of three people after a lunch at her home on the 30th of July.

Patterson is suspected to have poisoned four people by serving them beef wellington that used death cap mushrooms as part of the recipe. Patterson’s former parents in-law, Gail and Don Patterson (both aged 70) died in hospital on August 4th and 5th.

Gail Patterson’s sister, Heather Wilkinson (age 60) also died after the lunch. Her husband Ian Wilkinson, aged 68, remained seriously ill in hospital for two months after the lunch. In the weeks following the deaths, some people likened the case to the plot of a crime novel and the media branded Patterson as the “mushroom killer” despite no charges being laid.

At 8 am today, Patterson was arrested by police and taken in for questioning following a search of her home. No charges have been laid yet but as this is a developing story, further updates from police are to be expected.

As the investigation remains ongoing, there are several conflicting reports about the exact nature of the events that transpired. It has been alleged that Patterson’s estranged ex-husband, Simon Patterson, was also invited to the lunch but did not attend at the last minute.

Patterson has two children with her ex-husband, so inviting their grandparents to have lunch with them was not an out of the ordinary event, despite Patterson reportedly having minimal contact relationship with Simon. The two children were present and ate lunch as well but they did not suffer from any symptoms.

In an unsigned statement to police, Patterson confirmed that her husband accused her of poisoning her parents after they were hospitalised. A food dehydrator, which can be used to preserve mushrooms, has had attention drawn to it as evidence in the case.

Patterson dumped the dehydrator at a nearby tip where it was later recovered by police. Patterson claims that she panicked and that she dumped the dehydrator because she feared she would lose custody of her children.

In relation to the children, Patterson said in the statement that they ate leftovers from the lunch but other reports have claimed that they ate a separate dish. Throughout the case, Patterson has maintained that she used button mushrooms from a major supermarket and dried mushrooms bought at an Asian grocery store.

Her implicit claim that the death cap mushrooms were in the commercially grown mushrooms that she purchased however has been heavily scrutinised by industry experts. More to come.

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