Police say the 49-year-old woman was arrested early this morning. Her home was searched by dogs trained to find SIM cards and USB devices, for example, ABC News reports. The exact suspicions directed at her were not revealed.
The luncheon was held on July 29 in the Australian city of Leongatha, Victoria. Erin Patterson invited her ex-husband’s parents, Gail and Don Patterson. Jill’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, and Heather’s husband, Ian, were also present.
After lunch – beef Wellington with mushrooms – the four guests fell ill. Ex-spouses Gail, 70, and Don, 70, died in the following days, as did Heather, 66. Ian (68) became seriously ill but later recovered. It turns out that the dish contained one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world – the green tuberous mantis.
Patterson, 49, who prepared the case, said she was innocent from the beginning. She said the food contained white mushrooms from the supermarket and dried mushrooms from an Asian store, but she did not know they were highly toxic mushrooms.
Children ate leftovers
Police initially identified Patterson as a suspect, in part because it did not appear that she or her children had been poisoned. It later became clear that she had also been admitted to the hospital. The kids ate the leftovers the next day, but dug out the mushrooms because they didn’t like them.
She added that the woman was “shocked” by the loss of her husband’s former parents. “I loved them.” The Australian media has followed the case closely in recent months. Patterson’s ex-husband, who was not present at the dinner, is said to have accused her of killing his parents.
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