Cops: Woman Behind Fatal Meal Also Tried to Kill Husband

Australian police say Erin Patterson attempted to do so 4 times, including with lethal mushrooms
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2023 9:25 AM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2023 12:03 PM CDT
Woman Faces Murder Charges After Deadly Mushroom Meal
A police officer and dog investigate at the property of Erin Patterson in Leongatha, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.   (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)
UPDATE Nov 3, 2023 12:03 PM CDT

When police in Australia charged a woman this week with three counts of murder over poisonous mushrooms she served to guests, they added unspecified attempted murder charges as well. Now the details are out: Police say Erin Patterson tried to kill her estranged husband, Simon, four different times, reports the BBC. Investigators says he was apparently supposed to be at the fatal dinner but did not attend, accounting for one of those alleged attempts. A fifth count of attempted murder involves a dinner guest who survived.

Nov 2, 2023 9:25 AM CDT

When three people, including her former husband's parents, died after eating a lunch including mushrooms at Erin Patterson's home in July, the Australian woman insisted it was an accident. Investigators disagree. Police say the 49-year-old was arrested Thursday and charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. Four people in their late 60s or early 70s were hospitalized the day after the July 29 lunch at Patterson's home and three of them died: Gail and Don Patterson, the parents of her estranged husband, Simon Patterson; and Heather Wilkinson, Gail Patterson's sister.

Heather Wilkinson's husband, Ian, survived but spent almost two months in the hospital. Police say two counts of attempted murder relate to the lunch, while three others relate to separate incidents in 2021 and 2022 involving a 48-year-old man. The alleged victim in those cases wasn't named, though. Simon Patterson spent two weeks in an induced coma last year with what he described as "serious gut problems." Investigators searched Erin Patterson's property in Leongatha, Victoria state, on Thursday, and police dogs paid a lot of attention to bushes near the home, the Age reports. Victoria Police Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said the arrest was the latest step in a "complex and thorough investigation."

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Patterson told investigators that she served beef Wellington made with store-bought mushrooms, but police say the four guests were hospitalized with symptoms that suggested they had consumed wild death cap mushrooms, which are so toxic that one bite can be fatal. the AP reports. She told police she had the same meal and suffered stomach pains and diarrhea. Patterson admitted she had thrown away a food dehydrator after the meal, but she said it was because she panicked after her ex-husband accused her of killing his parents. (More mushrooms stories.)

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