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Death By Mushrooms

An Australian woman has been charged with the suspected murder of three people. How was this done? By mushrooms.

Erin Patterson, 49, decided to host a family lunch on July 29, 2023, to which she invited her ex-in-laws and fed them mushrooms which ultimately killed both of them and her mother-in-laws’ sister. Ms. Patterson, a chef, was arrested on Thursday morning, November 2, for serving death-cap mushrooms to her guests intentionally. She served the mushrooms inside a beef wellington. Police spent the rest of the day searching her house in East Melbourne actively looking for evidence.

Although toxicology reports state that Patterson did serve the deadly mushrooms, she remains clear on her defence and states that she is innocent. To make Patterson’s case even more unbelievable, she had also invited her ex-husband, Simon Paterson, to the lunch. He could not make it, fortunately for him. Due to Paterson herself and her two children clearly being unharmed after the lunch, the police decided it was best to take Ms Patterson into custody.

The volume of media this case has received is immense. This is backed up by Homicide squad Inspector Dean Thomas who stated, “I cannot think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest, not only here in Victoria, but also nationally and internationally”. Four people from Ms. Patterson’s lunch including her ex-in-laws were rushed to hospital on July 30 after reporting violent illness. Within days her ex-in-laws and her mother-in-law’s sister passed away.

Despite this damning evidence against Ms. Patterson, she too went to hospital after her lunch suffering from stomach pains. It was reported that she had been put on a saline drip and had been given medication to help her battle any liver damage. Ms. Paterson insists she bought half the mushrooms from her grocer and the other half were dried mushrooms from an Asian grocery months earlier. Ms. Paterson states, “I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones. I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people, whom I loved.”

Ms. Patterson’s children ate some of the left-over lunch the next day but had scraped off the mushrooms as they reportedly did not look like fungi. This just adds to the mystery in this case and makes Ms. Paterson’s argument more questionable. Ms. Patterson handed over the remains of the deadly lunch to the hospital toxicologists for examination. Let’s hope they don’t mistake the evidence for lunch.

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