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 symptoms 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.