Mystery shrouds deaths of 3 people as woman who served meal denies wrongdoing

The death of three people who may have eaten poisonous mushrooms continues to be shrouded in mystery.

Erin Patterson, the woman who served four family members the meal thought to contain the fungi in late July, has tearfully denied any wrongdoing while police carry on with their investigation.

On July 29, the woman invited over to her home in Leongatha, Victoria, for lunch a few relatives of her ex-husband, the split from whom has been described to police as “amicable”

Among the guests were Ms Patterson’s former in-laws, 70-year-old Don and Gail Patterson, as well as Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, and her husband, Reverend Ian Wilkinson, 68.

Ms Patterson’s two children also attended the lunch, but were reportedly given a meal that didn’t contain the mushrooms.

Family of dangerous Amanita phalloides

While their host didn’t get sick, all four guests felt unwell by midnight the following day, presenting symptoms similar to food poisoning.

On August 4, despite receiving medical care, Gail Patterson her sister died in hospital, while Mr Patterson passed away the following day, also while in hospital.

Referend Wilkinson, a beloved pastor at Korumburra Baptist Church in southeast Australia, continues to fight for his life in hospital.

Homicide detectives are now investigating the case, and on Saturday they searched Ms Patterson’s property and seized a number of items, the wrote.

No charges are expected to be laid at this stage of the investigation, although Ms Patterson, who denies any wrongdoing, remains a person of interest.


On Monday, speaking outside of her home, the 48-year-old woman described her late relatives as “some of the best people I’ve ever met”.

She said: “The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can’t fathom what has happened. I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can’t believe it.”

Saying she hasn’t done anything wrong, she added: “I didn’t do anything, I love them and I’m devastated they are gone.”

Police didn’t hide they are puzzled over the case, as they stressed the fact Ms Patterson is a person of interest doesn’t rule out the deaths may have been the result of a tragic accident.

SUBSCRIBE Invalid email

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said: “I’m not aware of an investigation where we’ve had three people die as a result of an apparent food poisoning, whether that be by a mushroom or something else – so yes, it is quite unique.

“[Ms Patterson] has not presented with any symptoms. So again, that forms part of our investigation whether she did or didn’t eat any of the mushrooms or anything else that may have been eaten on that particular day.”

Det Insp Thomas said the people who died presented symptoms consistent with eating death cap mushrooms – highly toxic fungi responsible for most mushroom-related fatalities.

Members of the local communities were left shaken by the incident, with many leaving flowers at the Korumburra Baptist Church.

In April, health authorities in Victoria warned people to stay away from wild mushrooms as downpours created ideal conditions for poisonous fungi to flourish.


Share This Post

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.