Authorities in Australia have formally charged a 49-year-old woman, identified as Erin Patterson by various media outlets, including The Sydney Morning Herald, The New York Times, and The Associated Press. She faces three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder, according to a statement from Victoria Police.
The charges are related to an incident on July 29 when four individuals fell ill after consuming a meal at a Leongatha residence. Tragically, Gail and Don Patterson, both aged 70, and Heather Wilkinson, aged 66, lost their lives, while Ian Wilkinson, 69, survived and was released from the hospital in September.
Following the third fatality, Patterson vehemently denied any wrongdoing, expressing her devastation and deep love for the victims. She could not fathom the tragic turn of events and extended her sincere apologies. Additionally, authorities have connected the three additional attempted murder charges to separate incidents that occurred in Victoria between 2021 and 2022. These incidents involve a 48-year-old man who fell ill after consuming meals during that timeframe.
According to a report by The New York Times, Erin Patterson organized a luncheon at her residence in July, inviting Gail and Don Patterson, who were the parents of her separated spouse, in addition to Gail Patterson’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, and her brother-in-law, Ian Wilkinson. Law enforcement had previously stated their belief that the victims had consumed Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the ‘death cap’ mushroom, which is considered one of the deadliest mushrooms for humans, as reported by CBS News.
During an August press briefing, authorities highlighted that two children were present at the luncheon but did not experience any illness. It is their belief that the children were served a distinct meal from the adults. Patterson was taken into custody on Thursday morning following a police search at her Leongatha residence, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The authorities remanded her in custody, and she is scheduled to appear at Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court tomorrow morning, according to the police statement. The investigation has attracted significant public attention, and Detective Inspector Dean Thomas emphasized the loss of three beloved individuals, urging the public to share any relevant information.