A shocking incident in the town of Leongatha, Victoria, Australia, has left a community in disbelief as a woman stands accused of poisoning her ex-husband’s parents and aunt with deadly mushrooms during a family lunch. Erin Patterson, 49, has also been charged with attempting to murder her ex-husband, Simon Patterson, who fell ill after consuming meals prepared by her over the past two years.
The incident occurred during a weekend family lunch hosted by Erin Patterson at her country home on July 29. The guests included her former husband’s parents, Gail and Don Patterson, both 70 years old, and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, along with Heather’s husband, Ian Wilkinson, 68. Following the lunch, all four guests were hospitalized the next day. Tragically, only Ian Wilkinson survived.
Authorities believe the family members fell victim to poisoning from wild Amanita phalloides, also known as death cap mushrooms. These mushrooms are notoriously toxic and can be deadly if ingested. The symptoms exhibited by the victims were consistent with mushroom poisoning.
Erin Patterson has publicly denied any wrongdoing and expressed her shock and sorrow at the situation. She tearfully told reporters, “I’m devastated. I loved them. I can’t believe that this has happened, and I’m so sorry,” just days after the third death. The police, however, deemed the circumstances suspicious and began a thorough investigation.
Patterson faces serious legal consequences. She was charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of Gail Patterson, Don Patterson, and Heather Wilkinson, and one count of attempted murder for the poisoning of Ian Wilkinson. Additionally, she faces charges related to her ex-husband’s illness after consuming meals in 2021 and 2022.
The investigation is ongoing, and authorities will continue to gather evidence to build a case against Erin Patterson. She is expected to appear in a local court on Friday, where she may apply for bail. In cases involving murder charges, bail requests are typically referred to a higher court.
If found guilty of murder, Patterson could face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, highlighting the seriousness of the allegations and the profound impact this incident has had on the victims’ families and the community as a whole.