Woman probed over death of 3 dinner guests after they ate toxic beef wellington

Erin Patterson has denied responsibility for the poisoning with mushrooms

An Australian mushroom death mystery is gripping the nation, with residents of the Land Down Under divided as to whether it was an accident or something more sinister. 

According to The New York Post, Erin Patterson invited a number of guests over her house in the small town of Leongatha for a dinner party, preparing a beef Wellington that took hours to make. 

Shortly after she served the dinner, however, tragedy struck when her guests suddenly fell violently ill – with three of them perishing, and two more getting critically sick.

Despite this, however, investigators are still baffled as to what happened.

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The three dead – Gail and Don Patterson, and Heather Wilkinson – were relatives of Erin Patterson’s ex-husband. The injured were related to Patterson’s ex-husband by marriage. And Wilkinson’s husband, Ian, is currently in a Melbourne hospital awaiting a liver transplant. 

Now, authorities have questions for Patterson – who, along with her children, was unharmed because they’d eaten a different meal – but she insists she didn’t do anything wrong. 

“I can’t believe that this happened, and I am sorry that they have lost their lives,” Erin said outside her home in an interview with the Australian press. “I didn’t do anything; I loved them. I just can’t fathom what happened.”

Patterson also admitted, in a statement released on August 14th at 12:00 p.m. ET, that she lied to authorities, but insisted that she would never hurt her dinner guests.

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“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” she said. “I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved.”

“I am now wanting to clear up the record because I have become extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths of my loved ones,” she continued. “I am hoping this statement might help in some way. I believe if people understood the background more, they would not be so quick to rush to judgment.”

A steak dish of English origin, beef Wellington is made by wrapping a tenderloin cut in a puff pastry and filling it with a savory mix of mushrooms, thyme, and shallots (also known as a duxelle). 

While the mushrooms can be of any variety, it’s believed that Patterson used what’s known as the “death cap” mushrooms, which are highly toxic and eventually lethal.

However, as the Australian mushroom death continues to be investigated, she remains a suspect – especially after it was revealed that her ex-husband, Simon, also suffered a stomach illness that put him in a coma after eating food served by his ex-wife.

This story was updated on August 14, 2023, at 2:15 p.m. ET, to reflect updated statements made by Erin Patterson.

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