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A woman from Australia has been arrested for the killing of her ex-husband’s parents, believed to be caused by poisoning from mushrooms.
49-year-old Erin Patterson was taken into custody on Thursday morning and is facing charges for three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. These charges involve various incidents that occurred in 2021.
On July 29th of this year, Ms. Patterson prepared a Beef Wellington dish with mushrooms for a family gathering in the rural town of Leongatha, Victoria.
Ms Patterson had organized a lunch in hopes of reconciling with her ex-husband’s family for the well-being of their children.
Simon’s parents, Gail and Don Patterson, who are both 70 years old, were in attendance at the gathering. Also present were Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, who is 66 years old, and her husband Ian Wilkinson, who is 68 years old.
Simon Patterson was also invited to the dinner, but was unable to attend due to their two children opting to watch a movie instead.
That evening, the two older couples became severely sick and were brought to nearby hospitals before being relocated to a facility in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, Gail and Heather passed away on August 4th, and Don passed away the following day. Ian, a pastor at a nearby Baptist church in Korumburra, was just discharged from the hospital after undergoing extensive treatment for several weeks.
Ms. Patterson, the fifth person at the table, was not harmed.
After being arrested on Thursday, Ms Patterson’s residence in eastern Melbourne was searched by the police. She was then detained and will appear at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court tomorrow morning.
The police in Victoria state reported that they were using specialized dogs trained to detect small electronic devices, such as USBs and SIM cards, to search the woman’s residence. These devices are often easily concealed.
The accusations of murder and two counts of attempted murder pertain to an event that occurred in July of this year. However, the additional three counts of attempted murder are connected to three distinct occurrences in Victoria from 2021 to 2022.
Ms Patterson has previously refuted any accusations of misconduct. In interviews, she has stated that she is unjustly being portrayed as a malevolent figure.
According to a statement from the police that was obtained by the ABC, Erin allegedly informed investigators that she had cooked a dish consisting of beef Wellington and a large amount of mushrooms.
Erin stated that she bought dried mushrooms from an Asian market a few months back, and also used button mushrooms from a nearby supermarket in the dish.
According to ABC, she allegedly couldn’t recall the specific location where she purchased them.
Although toxicology tests have not definitively determined the cause of death for the three family members, authorities have stated that their symptoms align with those of death cap mushroom poisoning.
According to the CDC, the toxins in mushrooms are not affected by heat and remain deadly even after cooking. Just half of a mushroom is enough to kill a person.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas, from the Victoria Police Homicide Squad, stated that over the past three months, this investigation has been under immense public scrutiny and interest.
“I cannot think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest, not only here in Victoria but also nationally and internationally.”
He stated, “In smaller towns like Leongatha and Korumburra, a tragic event like this can have lasting effects for many years.”
The current charges mark the following phase in a highly intricate, deliberate, and comprehensive inquiry by detectives from the Homicide Squad.
Please contact Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000 if you have any information related to this matter.
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