ON a quiet Saturday in July, Erin Patterson served her in-laws lunch – and so began a four month mushroom mystery that gripped the internet.
Today, in the biggest twist of the fungi saga – the mum-of-two was charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
The bombshell news broke today that Erin Patterson had been arrested and charged as cops raided her home in East Victoria, Australia.
The alleged murderer denies all wrongdoing and has always insisted she never meant to serve "my loved ones" the deadly mushrooms.
Patterson, 48, is accused of murdering her ex-husband's parents, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, and his aunt Heather Wilkinson, 66.
A fourth victim, Wilkinson's husband, Ian, was left critically ill and spent months in a hospital.
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Poison mushroom cook charged with MURDER over meal that killed 3
What we know about Erin Patterson
She also faces five attempted murder charges, three of which relate to "separate incidents" between 2021-2022, Victoria police said.
In each case, a 48-year-old man – believed to be Erin’s ex-husband Simon Patterson – became ill following various meals.
In a case full of sordid twists and turns – here is a timeline of key events that led to Erin Patterson being charged with the mushroom murders.
2021 – 2022
On "three separate incidents" spanning across 2021 to 2022, police say that Erin attempted to kill a 48-year-old Korumburra man.
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It's understood this man is Erin's ex-husband, Simon Patterson.
Two of the dates are unknown, however in May 2022, Simon claimed to have suffered from a mystery illness that fighting for life in hospital.
In a social media post, he wrote: "I collapsed at home, then was in an induced coma for 16 days through which I had three emergency operations mainly on my small intestine, plus an additional planned operation.
"My family were asked to come and say goodbye to me twice, as I was not expected to live.
"I was in intensive care for 21 days…"
JULY 29, 2023
Erin gathered her estranged husband's relatives together for Saturday lunch at her home on July 29.
She invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, plus Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian, to her house in Leongatha.
Erin served up a beef wellington – allegedly containing death cap mushrooms – and soon after her guests became violently ill.
If consumed, death cap mushrooms are quick to wreak havoc on the body, attacking the liver and can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Patterson said she did not serve the dish to her two school-age kids and it is still not clear if they were present at the lunch or not.
All four of the mushroom lunch attendees are admitted to hospitals with food poisoning-like symptoms.
Doctors later said their symptoms were consistent with poisoning by death cap mushrooms, which grow wild in the area.
Gail Patterson and her sister Heather Wilkinson die in hospital.
Heather's husband Ian, a local pastor, is left in critical condition.
Don Patterson dies in hospital – the third and last victim to die from the mushroom meal.
The same day, police obtained a search warrant to Patterson’s home in Leongatha where the lunch was served.
She is interviewed by homicide detectives and later released.
Victoria Police tell the press that Erin is a suspect in the case because “she cooked those meals”.
Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Dean Thomas emphasises it is a “complex case” but “it could be very innocent”.
He reveals that Erin is separated from her husband, Simon, but that they believe the split was amicable.
The same day, the tearful suspect makes a public statement denying she meant to harm her husband’s relatives.
“I didn’t do anything,” she told the media outside her home. “I loved them and I’m devastated they are gone.”
She cried: “I’m so devastated about what’s happened and the loss to the community and to the families and to my own children.
"They’ve lost their grandmother. I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives.”
Police conduct tests on a food dehydrator that they seized after Erin claimed to have dumped it in a skip.
Outside her house, Patterson tells reporters she’s “going to the sh** house.”
A close friend of Simon Patterson claims Erin held the lethal lunch in a bid to try and win him back – but that he pulled out at the last minute.
“They went to her house for a mediation to talk to the family,” the friend told The Daily Mail.
“Simon was supposed to go there for lunch but he pulled out at the last minute otherwise he would be in that death bed too.”
Erin releases another statement to the press explaining her version of events and again denying any wrongdoing.
"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."
She also claimed that her kids had not been present at the fateful lunch, but she had fed them leftovers the next day but without the mushrooms as they do not like them.
Then in a sudden twist, the mum announced that she was in fact very ill after eating her beef wellington dish and was briefly hospitalised.
She also confirmed that she had dumped her food dehydrator in a skip.
Erin's statements also added to confusion over how she came to possess the deadly mushrooms.
Erin had initially claimed to have purchased the poisonous mushrooms from an Asian supermarket in Melbourne months before the fatal incident.
However, she now said that she had used a mixture of button mushrooms and the dried mushrooms bought from two different stores.
Asian shops and mushroom growers in the area claimed they did not have any issues reported to them, and none of their mushroom products were recalled.
Victoria’s Health Department also said there had been no health alerts for any mushroom sales.
A tradesman came forward to reveal that he had seen and photographed what he called a "death wall" inside Erin’s former home.
Red and blue markers were used to scrawl eerie drawings and messages over the wall of children’s tombstones – with one chilling warning reading: "You don't [have] long to live".
The same day, a neighbour of Patterson’s claimed she was an experienced forager, who regularly picked her own mushrooms in the local area.
Hundreds of mourners attend the funeral for Don and Gail Paterson in Korumburra.
Their son and Erin’s ex, Simon, reveals the final test his mother sent to the family Whatsapp group as she lay in bed was: “Lots of love to you all”.
Ian Wilkinson, who survived the mushroom lunch, is finally discharged from hospital after making “significant progress”.
Forensic tests reportedly reveal mushroom poisoning was the official cause of death of the three victims.
Ian Wilkinson is seen for the first time looking frail on a walking frame as he attends the funeral for his wife of 44 years.
There is no mention of the deadly mushroom lunch during the 90-minute service.
Today, police arrested and charged Erin with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
“Today’s charges are just the next step in what has been an incredibly complex, methodical and thorough investigation by homicide squad detectives,” said Detective Inspector Dean Thomas.
He added that the investigation "is not over yet".
“I know that people will no doubt have many unanswered questions about this matter, however I urge people to be especially mindful of unnecessary speculation and not sharing misinformation.”
Police were seen searching Erin's home with the help of "technology detector dogs" that will sniff out any electronic devices that may be hidden.
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The dogs were seen combing through cars and her home as more officers carried things out of her house.
Patterson will remain in custody and appear at court on Friday morning.
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