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Mystery over family lunch which left three people dead and one person fighting for their life

Joe Harker

Published 
| Last updated 

Mystery over family lunch which left three people dead and one person fighting for their life

Featured Image Credit: Nine News

Police in Australia are searching for the truth after three people died and a fourth was hospitalised after they are believed to have eaten poisonous mushrooms.

Victoria Police confirmed that they're investigating after four people were admitted to hospital on 30 July after eating a meal at a private home in the town of Leongatha the day before.

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66-year-old Heather Wilkinson and 70-year-old Gail Patterson died in hospital on 4 August, while 70-year-old Don Patterson died a day later (5 August), with Heather's 68-year-old husband Ian still receiving care and treatment but in a 'critical condition'.

All four were residents of the nearby town of Korumburra, with Heather and Gail being sisters and the Pattersons being the in-laws of 48-year-old Erin, who is separated from their son.

Erin and her two children also ate at the house on that day but were not taken ill.

Victoria Police have described the deaths as a 'suspected mushroom poisoning'. Credit: ABC
Victoria Police have described the deaths as a 'suspected mushroom poisoning'. Credit: ABC
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Police searched her house and interviewed the 48-year-old woman who was 'released pending further enquiries'.

They said they do not know if everyone ate the same meal or whether there were mushrooms in the dishes served that day.

Officers confirmed that the investigation into exactly what happened to leave three dead and a fourth in critical condition is ongoing.

Police have said they believe that the four people ate death cap mushrooms which are highly poisonous and lethal to humans if ingested.

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DI Dean Thomas said the three deaths were currently 'unexplained' but that they understood that the 48-year-old woman's relationship with her separated husband's family was 'amicable'.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said the homicide squad's investigation 'doesn't automatically mean that the deaths are suspicious'. Credit: ABC
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said the homicide squad's investigation 'doesn't automatically mean that the deaths are suspicious'. Credit: ABC

ABC reports that DI Thomas said the circumstances of the three deaths seemingly from eating poisonous mushrooms 'doesn't automatically mean that the deaths are suspicious'.

He said: "She cooked those meals for those people that were present.

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"She hasn't presented with any symptoms but we have to keep an open mind in relation to this that could be very innocent, but again we just don't know at this point.

"We need to understand what has occurred, what is the cause of the injuries and symptoms to these people and the circumstances surrounding them. It's a very complex matter, we're working closely with medical professionals and the Department of Health in relation to this."

DI Thomas said that toxicology testing would take some time and it was important to be patient in the search for answers that would make the picture clearer.

According to the BBC Erin Patterson said she 'can't fathom what has happened' and that she was innocent, telling reporters: "I didn't do anything. I loved them."

Topics: News, Australia, Crime

Joe Harker
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