The host of a weekend family dinner at her country home in Australia was charged Thursday with killing her ex-husband’s parents and aunt with poisonous mushrooms and attempting to kill a fourth guest, police said.
Police arrested Erin Patterson, 49, at her home in Leongatha, Victoria, where her ex-husband’s parents, Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, and Gail Patterson’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, were staying. , and Wilkinson’s husband, Ian Wilkinson, 68. invited for lunch on July 29.
All four guests were hospitalized the next day and only Ian Wilkinson survived.
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Patterson has publicly denied any wrongdoing.
“I’m devastated. I loved them. I can’t believe this happened. And I’m so sorry,” she tearfully told reporters two days after the third death.
Patterson was also charged with three counts of attempted murder of her ex-husband, Simon Patterson, 48, who fell ill after eating three meals in 2021 and 2022, according to a police statement. He did not attend the July luncheon.
Police say the four family members who attended showed symptoms consistent with poisoning from wild Amanita phalloides, known as death mushrooms.
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Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that Patterson wrote in a statement that she cooked a beef Wellington dish for lunch using and used mushrooms purchased from a large supermarket chain and dried mushrooms from an Asian grocer.
She wrote that she also ate the meal and later had stomach pains and diarrhea.
Ian Wilkinson, a Baptist pastor, was released from hospital in late September and police say he continues to recover.
The killing in Victoria carries a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Patterson was expected to remain in police custody until she appeared in a local court on Friday, when she could potentially apply for bail.
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Bail applications for defendants charged with murder are usually referred to a higher court.