Not sure why this is a mystery. It was clearly an attempted murder of her ex -- who wisely stayed away after previous bad experience of her cookery. The fact that she herself was alone unaffected is also grounds for grave suspicion
It was supposed to be a family meal where differences could be reconciled and future plans made for the sake of the estranged couple’s children.
Instead, it kicked off events that could have come straight out of a murder mystery novel or the board game Clue.
Four of the five people sat around the table fell gravely ill, three of them later dying with the fourth left fighting for his life.
The fifth, meanwhile, appeared to escape unscathed – curiously the very same person who prepared and cooked the meal for the other four guests.
What has since emerged is a bizarre case that continues to enthrall people all across the globe – involving mushroom poisoning, a series of deaths, a tearful interview and now reports of a past mystery illness.
It all began one fateful day on 29 July, when Erin Patterson prepared a special meal of beef Wellington with “lots of mushrooms” for lunch at her home in Leongatha, a rural town in the Australian state of Victoria.
Present at the church-mediated lunch — set up to sort out visitation rights for her two children — were her in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, and her husband Ian, 68.
All four of her elderly in-laws fell violently ill that night from suspected mushroom poisoning.
Gail, Don and Heather, all teachers, died in hospital days later, while Ian, a local pastor, has been left fighting for his life.
Erin’s estranged husband Simon Patterson had skipped out on the meal at the last moment, while the couple’s two children had also left their mother’s home to see a movie just before the meat and pastry dish was served.
Victoria Police have since launched a homicide investigation, and at a press conference last week confirmed Ms Patterson is a suspect in the killings.
Erin, an experienced wild mushroom forager, reportedly told investigators she used dried fungi that she had purchased months earlier from an Asian grocery store and a fresh button variety bought recently from a local supermarket.
She later admitted lying to investigators about dumping a food dehydrator used to prepare the meal in a local refuse site after the deaths, according to the ABC.
In a statement obtained by the Australian public broadcaster, she said she was at the hospital with her children “discussing the food dehydrator” when her former husband asked: “Is that what you used to poison them?”
The 48-year-old mother-of-two has vehemently maintained her innocence, and in an interview this week claimed she is unfairly being painted as an “evil witch”.
As the poisoning mystery has shaken the small rural community 136kms southeast of Melbourne, and gripped Australian and international media, more disturbing details continue to emerge – with Simon Patterson now claiming that he once spent 16 days in an induced coma from a mystery gastro illness after eating food prepared by his wife.
Deadly dinner party
In a police statement obtained by the ABC, Erin reportedly told investigators that she had prepared a meal of beef Wellington with a “lot of mushrooms”.
Erin claimed she had purchased dried mushrooms from an Asian grocer several months ago, and button mushrooms from a local supermarket recently – using both in the dish.
Yet she reportedly could not remember exactly where she had bought them, according to the ABC.
She stated that she stored the dried mushrooms at a home she owns in Melbourne, before bringing them to the home in Leongatha.
“I used the dried mushrooms as they been in my cupboard for some time and I wanted to use them up. I rehydrated them and put them into the dish with the mushrooms that I had bought at [the supermarket],” according to the ABC.
Don and Gail Patterson died after eating poisoned mushrooms at Erin Patterson’s home in Victoria, Australia, on 29 July.
Erin said she served the others and allowed them to select their own plates, before taking the last plate.