What would drive someone to kill their in-laws with a side of mushroom and murder? That’s what we’d like to know. Erin Patterson, a woman from South Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, is accused of poisoning four members of her ex-husband’s family with mushrooms. Three of the four have since perished. Erin has now been charged with three counts of murder, amongst other charges.
Let’s take this true crime back a few steps. When did it happen? Let’s examine the events of the mushroom murders from the beginning, thanks to an article by the ABC.
The Beginning – The (Fatal) Beef Wellington Luncheon
On 29 July 2023, Erin Patterson invited her former in-laws to lunch in Korumburra. These were her former parents-in-law, Gail and Don Patterson, the mum and dad of her estranged husband, Simon Patterson. Also invited were Heather and Ian Wilkinson, the sister and brother-in-law of Gail, respectively.
Erin served the couples Beef Wellington that she had made with mushrooms she had allegedly dried herself. Over the next couple of days, both couples end up in the hospital with a severe case of food poisoning.
On the 4th of August, Gail and Heather both die from the suspected food poisoning. The next day, on August 5th, Gail’s husband, Don, also perishes. Ian Wilkinson, Heather’s husband, is placed on life support in desperate need of a liver transplant.
Erin Patterson’s house is then searched by the homicide squad the same day as Don’s death is confirmed.
On Monday, August 7th, the Victorian Health Department confirmed that mushrooms were the cause of Gail, Don and Heather’s deaths.
Erin then expresses her devastation to the media and says she is innocent in the mushroom deaths.
Mystery Of The Mushroom Murders Gets Wilder
Erin Patterson issued a statement to the Victorian police on August 11th, claiming her children were present at the event but had left to go to the movies, so they did not eat the meal. She recounted buying an assortment of supermarket-bought and dried mushrooms from an Asian grocery store. Patterson then goes on to describe how Victorian Health had contacted her after her guests had been admitted to the hospital and how she had to give over a sample of mushroom for the toxicology tests.
A memorial service is held for Don and Gail in private between August 21 and August 22. A second, more public service is held on August 31.
The Reverend in charge of the second service was highly critical of the media attention the town has gotten since the mushroom poisonings occurred.
Ian Wilkinson is released from the hospital after weeks of being in intensive care on September 23rd. He attends a memorial held for his wife, Heather, on October 4th but chooses not to speak at the event. Their son, David Wilkinson, broke down when speaking about the warm and loving woman his mother had been.
Erin Patterson Is Arrested
Erin Patterson is arrested just after 8 a.m. on November 2nd. Her car, house and garage are searched for several hours.
Australian Federal Police, along with sniffer dogs, find USB devices and SIM cards. Erin is then charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
In conclusion, on November 3rd, Erin faced court, where her lawyer did not apply for bail. Furthermore, the case will resume in May 2024 to give Patterson’s lawyers to build up their case. Moreover, Patterson is currently awaiting her trial in prison.
- The additional four attempted murder charges were for Erin Patterson’s numerous attempts to kill her ex-husband, Simon Patterson.
- The Daily Mail reported that Erin had dumped a food dehydrator at the local tip.
- The Asian grocer where Erin allegedly bought some of the mushrooms has denied that the toxic mushrooms came from them as they had never had complaints of anyone getting sick.
- Simon Patterson did not attempt the meal as he was sick.