Australian Woman Accused of Killing Former In-Laws with Poisonous Mushrooms After Inviting Them Over for Family Meal

Erin Patterson
Erin Patterson YouTube

A family meal turned into a death trap after three out of five Australian guests lost their lives within a week of consuming toxic death cap mushrooms. While the fourth person is fighting for his life, the fifth is being investigated for the use of wild mushrooms.

On July 29, Erin Patterson, 48, allegedly invited her estranged former partner Simon Patterson to their family home for the meal with his parents Gail and Tom Patterson, along with Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian.

3 Out of 5 Guests Invited to the Family Meal Died

All four guests fell ill after the meal at Erin's home in Leongatha, in Victoria's Gippsland region before being admitted to hospital the following day.

Hours after lunch, all four of the guests went to the nearby hospital for medical assistance. At first, the suffering was attributed to acute gastroenteritis. They were later moved to a Melbourne hospital to obtain the best medical care the state could offer after the situation quickly deteriorated.

Mushroom poisoning
(clockwise from left to right) Gail Patterson, Heather Wilkinson and Heather Wilkinson and Don Patterson. Twitter

Don, 70, died on Saturday after Heather, 66, and Gail, 70, tragically breathed their last on Friday. The 68-year-old Ian was still in serious condition and is awaiting a liver transplant.

Erin's former husband, Simon, who was reportedly already recovering from a mystery stomach illness that left him fighting for his life, backed out of the lunch at the last minute.

Investigation Revealed the Use of Death Cap Mushrooms

The four fatalities had consumed death cap mushrooms, which are notoriously deadly if consumed, according to the police's subsequent investigation.

Death cap mushrooms
Death cap mushrooms Twitter

Death cap mushrooms, scientifically known as Amanita phalloides, are one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world. Amatoxins, a class of poisons, are found in death cap mushrooms. These substances have extremely poisonous and are capable of causing fatal outcomes including liver and renal failure. Surprisingly, a very trace amount of a death cap mushroom can prove to be lethal.

Erin's Two Kids were Unharmed, Had Consumed a Different Meal

Surprisingly, Erin and her two kids were unharmed. Authorities confirmed that the kids had eaten a different supper and that they had been placed in state custody out of an abundance of caution. However, the situation is still hampered by various uncertainties.

It's still unknown if Erin ate the same food as her guests or if the mushrooms were a component of the dish she served. Although Erin and her husband (the Pattersons' son) split up amicably, detectives have not ruled out the possibility of "nefarious activity."

"At this point in time, the deaths are unexplained," the homicide squad's Dean Thomas told reporters on Monday, adding, "It could be very innocent, but we just don't know."

Erin Maintains Her Innocence

Erin has denied any wrongdoing. Yesterday she sobbed in front of local tv cameras saying: "I loved them and I'm devastated that they're gone," she said.

"Gail was like the mum I didn't have because my mum passed away four years ago and Gail had never been anything but good and kind to me," she continued. "Ian and Heather were some of the best people I'd ever met. They never did anything wrong to me."

Despite her claims, homicide detectives have named Erin is a person of interest since she cooked the meal and did not have symptoms of poisoning.