A woman who prepared a Wellington beef dish with mushrooms that killed three of her former in-laws and left another in critical condition claims the deaths were accidental.
Tragedy struck in Australia last month when Erin Patterson invited her former in-laws Gail and Tom Patterson to dinner along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian. A few days after the meal, Gail and Tom, both 70, and Heather, 66, were all dead and Ian, 68, was fighting for his life.
According to local media reports, Ms Patterson, who has not been charged, has now provided authorities with a detailed account of what happened.
In her statement, Ms Patterson claimed she was unaware the mushrooms were poisonous when she prepared the meal in Leongatha, South Gippsland last month. Simon, Ms Patterson’s former partner, had been invited to the dinner but was unable to attend.
“I am now devastated to think that these fungi may have contributed to my loved ones’ illness,” said the 48-year-old. “I really want to reiterate that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people I loved.”
“I want to clean up the record now because I’m extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the death of my loved ones,” she continued. “I hope that this statement could be of some help. I think if people understood the background better, they wouldn’t be so quick to judge.”
Victoria Police said the four victims fell ill and were taken to hospital on July 30 after eating together the previous day.
Speaking about the bizarre case last week, Homicide Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said the deaths were “unexplained”.
Inspector Thomas said two children were present at the scene but “did not suffer any injuries or symptoms” as police believe they may have eaten a different meal from the others.
Ms Patterson, who also did not fall ill, finally broke her silence on Monday as she collapsed outside her home over the loss of “some of the best people I’ve ever met”.
“The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who lost their grandmother… I just can’t fathom what happened,” she said. “I’m so sorry you lost your life. I just can’t believe it.”
The mushrooms in question were a combination of button mushrooms bought in a supermarket and dried mushrooms from an unspecified Asian grocery store in Melbourne.
ABC News reported that while Ms Patterson informed health officials of the origin of the mushrooms, she was unable to provide the exact name or location of each store.