Erin Patterson – Australian Death Cap Mushroom Chef

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Death cap mushrooms grow wild in Australia’s moist, warm climates. They can be mistaken for edible species and are said to taste sweeter than other mushrooms. However, they contain strong toxins that gradually damage the liver and kidneys.

Erin Patterson - Australian Death Cap mushroom chef

In the small rural town of Leongatha, southeast of Melbourne, a 49-year-old woman named Erin Patterson was charged with three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder for preparing the lethal mushroom dinner that claimed the lives of three people and left the local preacher fighting for his life. Shortly after Patterson was taken into custody and her home was searched by officers, the charges were filed. Patterson was also charged with three additional counts of attempted murder related to three previous incidents in 2021–2022, in which a 48-year-old man fell ill after eating the deadly mushrooms.

On July 29, Patterson was accused of feeding her estranged parents-in-law, Don and Gail Patterson, along with local Baptist preacher Ian Wilkinson and his spouse Heather, a beef Wellington lunch. Later that evening, the two couples health quickly declined and they were admitted to the hospital with signs of food poisoning. Three of them passed away within a week. Just 69-year-old pastor Wilkinson made it out alive out of the four, having been very ill in the hospital for almost two months. His release date was September 23rd. He made his public debut during a memorial service for his wife at October, and the local media reported that he was using a walking frame.

Patterson has consistently maintained her innocence, allegedly stating in August that the poisonings were an accident and that she had mistakenly purchased the mushrooms from an Asian grocery store, but according to the police, the symptoms they had matched those of consuming extremely toxic death cap mushrooms.