Australian woman in court over ‘mushroom murders’


An Australian woman suspected of killing her in-laws with a poisonous mushroom lunch and making four attempts to kill her estranged husband appeared in a court in this country on Friday.

Erin Patterson (49) from Leongatha, about two hours’ drive south-east of Melbourne, is facing three charges of murder after she allegedly dished up a poisonous beef dish (Beef Wellington) earlier this year which ended up taking the lives of her parents-in-law and that of a third lunch guest, the wife of a local pastor, demanded.

According to the police, the beef tenderloin dish contained poisonous mushrooms.

Patterson allegedly served the dish in July for her estranged parents-in-law, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, as well as local Baptist pastor Ian Wilkinson, 69, and his wife Heather, 66.

The two couples allegedly began experiencing symptoms of food poisoning later that evening and later called for medical help.

Don and Gail Patterson and Heather Wilkinson died soon after. However, the pastor recovered after spending almost two months in the hospital.

Patterson was arrested this week after a three-month investigation that has regularly grabbed the Australian headlines in the past few months.

However, Patterson maintains she is innocent.

She claims she bought the mushrooms from an Asian grocery store and was “devastated” that her food led to the death of her loved ones.

However, Patterson is also accused of repeatedly trying to kill her estranged husband, Simon Patterson.

The police say that after separate incidents in 2021 and 2022, Simon “became ill after meals”. His estranged wife is now facing four charges of attempted murder in connection with these incidents.

The mushrooms in question said to be used in the dish are found in wet, hot parts of Australia and are easily mistaken for edible varieties.

The mushrooms in question are said to taste sweeter than other types of mushrooms, but contain powerful toxins that slowly poison the liver and kidneys.

The police say the case is getting an incredible amount of attention in the media.

“This investigation has been subject to incredibly intense levels of public scrutiny and curiosity over the past three months,” Detective Dean Thomas said Thursday after Patterson’s arrest.

“I can’t think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest, not only here in Victoria, but also nationally and globally.”