On a quiet Saturday in July, Erin Patterson served lunch to the in-laws—and so began a four-month mushroom mystery that captivated the Internet.
Today the biggest twist in the mushroom saga comes: The mother of two was charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
Today broke the bombshell news that Erin Patterson was arrested and charged when police raided her home in East Victoria, Australia.
The alleged murderer has denied any wrongdoing and has always insisted she never intended to serve the deadly mushrooms to “my loved ones”.
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, became seriously ill and spent months in hospital.
She also faces five attempted murder charges, three of which relate to “isolated incidents” between 2021 and 2022, Victoria Police said.
In each case, a 48-year-old man – believed to be Erin’s ex-husband Simon Patterson – became ill after various meals.
In a case full of sordid twists and turns – here is a timeline of the key events that led to Erin Patterson being charged with the Mushroom Murders.
2021 – 2022
In “three separate incidents” between 2021 and 2022, police say Erin attempted to kill a 48-year-old Korumburra man.
This man is believed to be Erin’s ex-husband Simon Patterson.
Two of the dates are unknown, however, in May 2022, Simon stated that he had suffered from a mysterious illness that left him living in the hospital.
In a social media post, he wrote: “I collapsed at home and was then in an induced coma for 16 days, undergoing three emergency operations, mainly on the small intestine, as well as another elective operation.”
“My family was asked twice to come and say goodbye to me as I was not expected to survive.
“I was in the intensive care unit for 21 days…”
29TH OF JULY2023
On July 29, Erin gathered her estranged husband’s relatives at her home for Saturday lunch.
She invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, as well as Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian, to her home in Leongatha.
Erin served a beef gumboot that supposedly contained death cap mushrooms, and soon her guests became seriously ill.
If consumed, death cap mushrooms quickly wreak havoc on the body, attacking the liver and can cause death if not treated immediately.
Patterson said she did not serve the dish to her two school-age children and it is still unclear whether they were present at the lunch or not.
All four participants in the mushroom dinner are taken to hospitals with symptoms similar to food poisoning.
Doctors later said her symptoms were consistent with poisoning from death cap mushrooms, which grow wild in the area.
4TH OF AUGUST
Gail Patterson and her sister Heather Wilkinson die in hospital.
Heather’s husband Ian, a local pastor, is in critical condition.
5TH OF AUGUST
Don Patterson dies in the hospital – the third and final victim to die from the mushroom meal.
That same day, police obtained a search warrant for Patterson’s home in Leongatha, where lunch was served.
She is questioned by homicide detectives and later released.
Victoria Police tell the press that Erin is a suspect in the case because “she cooked these meals.”
Homicide Detective Inspector Dean Thomas stressed that it was a “complex case” but “could be very harmless”.
He reveals that Erin is separated from her husband Simon, but that they believe the split was amicable.
On the same day, the tearful suspect makes a public statement denying that she intended to harm her husband’s relatives.
“I didn’t do anything,” she told the media outside her home. “I loved them and am devastated that they are gone.”
She cried: “I am so devastated by what has happened and the loss to the community, the families and my own children.
“They lost their grandmother. I’m so sorry they lost their lives.”
Police conduct tests on a food dehydrator they confiscated after Erin claims she threw it in a dumpster.
Outside her home, Patterson tells reporters that she’s “going to the fucking house.”
A close friend of Simon Patterson claims Erin held the fatal lunch to win him back – but he backed out at the last minute.
“They went to her house to talk to the family for a mediation,” the friend told The Daily Mail.
“Simon was supposed to go there for lunch, but he canceled at the last minute or he would be on his deathbed too.”
Erin releases another statement to the press explaining her version of events and again denying any wrongdoing.
“Now I am devastated to think that these mushrooms could have contributed to my loved ones’ illness.
“I really want to reiterate that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people I loved.”
She also claimed that her children were not present at the fateful lunch but she fed them leftovers the next day, albeit without the mushrooms as they do not like them.
Then the mother suddenly announced that she was actually very ill after eating her beef Wellington meal and needed to be hospitalized for a short time.
She also confirmed that she had thrown her dehydrator into a dumpster.
Erin’s statements also added to the confusion about how she came into possession of the deadly mushrooms.
Erin initially claimed to have bought the poisonous mushrooms from an Asian supermarket in Melbourne months before the fatal incident.
However, she now said that she used a mix of mushrooms and dried mushrooms that she purchased from two different stores.
Asian stores and mushroom growers in the area said no problems had been reported to them and that none of their mushroom products had been recalled.
Victoria’s Health Department also said there had been no health warnings for mushroom sales.
15TH OF AUGUST
A handyman came forward and revealed that he had seen and photographed a so-called “wall of death” in Erin’s former home.
Creepy drawings and messages were scrawled across the walls of children’s gravestones with red and blue markers – with a chilling warning: “You’re not allowed to do this.” [have] to live long”.
On the same day, a neighbor of Patterson’s claimed that she was an experienced forager who regularly picked mushrooms herself in the area.
Hundreds of mourners attend the funeral of Don and Gail Paterson in Korumburra.
Her son and Erin’s ex Simon reveals that the last test his mother sent to the family WhatsApp group while in bed read: “Lots of love to you all.”
Ian Wilkinson, who survived eating mushrooms, is finally released from hospital after making “significant progress”.
Forensic investigations reportedly revealed that mushroom poisoning was the official cause of death for the three victims.
4TH OF OCTOBER
Ian Wilkinson is seen for the first time looking frail on a walker as he attends the funeral of his wife of 44 years.
There is no mention of the deadly mushroom eating during the 90-minute service.
Today police arrested Erin and charged her with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
“Today’s charges are just the next step in an incredibly complex, methodical and thorough investigation by homicide detectives,” said Detective Inspector Dean Thomas.
He added that the investigation was “not yet complete.”
“I know people will undoubtedly have many unanswered questions about this topic, but I urge people to be particularly vigilant about unnecessary speculation and not to share misinformation.”
Police officers were seen searching Erin’s home with the help of “technology sniffing dogs” who may detect hidden electronic devices.
Read more on the Irish Sun
The dogs were seen combing through cars and her home while additional officers carried items out of her home.
Patterson remains in custody and will appear in court Friday morning.