Erin Patterson has been charged with murder
Three months after 3 people died following a meal believed to contain toxic death cap mushrooms, Erin Patterson has been charged by police with 3 counts of murder and 5 of attempted murder. The 49yo woman who made and served the beef Wellington lunch was arrested at home in Leongatha in Victoria’s Gippland region yesterday morning and remanded in Morwell last night. The charges relate to the deaths of her estranged husband’s parents Don and Gail Patterson and Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, while one of the attempted murder charges relate to Heather’s husband Ian. As for the other 4 counts of attempted murder, reports say they relate to Patterson’s estranged husband Simon – one is from the 29 July lunch that he was meant to attend but pulled out of at the last minute. The others are from 3 separate alleged poisonings of her husband between 2021 and 2022.
Remind me what happened…
Patterson has previously given police a written statement saying she bought the mushrooms at an Asian grocery store in Melbourne’s Mount Waverley. After the lunch, the 4 guests became ill, and Don, Gail and Heather died over the next week. Ian Wilkinson survived and was released from hospital almost 2 months later. Patterson says she was also hospitalised with stomach pains and diarrhoea – which the local health service confirmed – but police have said she didn’t suffer any symptoms of poisoning. At the centre of it all is a food hydrator police seized from a local tip after Patterson dumped it. And police are still waiting for the toxicology report about the mushrooms being responsible for the deaths… Patterson’s previously denied responsibility for the deaths, saying she had “no reason to hurt these people, whom I loved”.
Where to from here?
Patterson will appear in court in Morwell today. It follows a drama-packed day yesterday where police searched her home again – this time using technology detector dogs, which can sniff out things like USB sticks and SIM cards. We don’t know if that turned up anything, but police were photographed leaving with bags of evidence. Last night, Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said the charges are “just the next step in what has been an incredibly complex, methodical and thorough investigation by Homicide Squad detectives.’’ He added that he understands the “media and public interest, not only here in Victoria, but also nationally and internationally” but asked for the public to refrain from sharing “misinformation” about the case. He says the focus should remain on the “3 people who, by all accounts, were much beloved in their communities and are greatly missed by their loved ones”.
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