Erin Patterson arrested over Leongatha mushroom poisoning deaths

Police say they will interview the woman who cooked a mushroom lunch suspected of killing three people in Victoria’s east after an extensive search of her home is complete.

Detectives arrested 49-year-old Leongatha woman Erin Patterson at her Gippsland home shortly after 8am today.

Providing an update shortly after 1pm, the homicide squad’s Inspector Dean Thomas said today’s arrest was the “next step in what has been a complex and thorough investigation” and that the investigation was “not over yet”.

Police have also searched the home using Australian Federal Police technology detector dogs, which search for items such as USBs and SIM cards.

The arrest comes roughly three months after detectives linked a lunch held at the home to the deaths of three people. 

Ms Patterson has maintained she did nothing wrong

Gail and Don Patterson, the parents of Erin Patterson’s ex-husband, died in hospital on 4 and 5 August.

The pair were guests at a lunch hosted by Erin Patterson in late July.

Gail Patterson’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, also died after the lunch and her husband Ian Wilkinson was critically ill but recovered.

Vehicles outside a house.
Police are searching the Leongatha home of Erin Patterson. (ABC News: Georgia Lenton-Williams)

Erin Patterson has always maintained she did not intentionally poison her guests.

In a written statement sent to police in August, Ms Patterson said she bought fungi for the lunch at a supermarket and an Asian grocery store, and was herself hospitalised after eating the lunch.

She said the mushrooms were used in a beef wellington which was served at the lunch.

An aeriel image of Erin Patterson's home in Leongatha with four vehicles parked in the drive way
Police are searching Ms Patterson’s home using Australian Federal Police technology detector dogs.(ABC News: ABC News)

After the deaths, Ms Patterson told reporters she was “devastated” by the loss of her relatives.

“I didn’t do anything, I loved them,” she said.

Police have previously said the three people who died displayed symptoms of having eaten death cap mushrooms. 

Police warn against public speculation

Inspector Thomas said the investigation had been subject to “incredibly intense levels of pubic scrutiny and curiosity”.

“I cannot think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest not only here in Victoria but also nationally and internationally,” he said.

“I think it’s particularly important that we keep in mind that at the heart of this, three people have lost their lives.

“These are three people who, by all accounts, were much beloved in their communities and are greatly missed by their loved ones.

“In smaller communities like Leongatha and Korumburra, tragedy such as this can reverberate for years to come.”

Composite image of two women and two men, all smiling.
Ian and Heather Wilkinson, and Don and Gail Patterson were all hospitalised after suspected mushroom poisoning. (Supplied/ABC News)

He warned the community against speculation and the spreading of misinformation and said police would provide updates.

“While we do want to provide timely updates about this matter, it is critical that doing this does not adversely impact the current investigation or any future processes,” he said.

Police are urging anyone with relevant information to contact Crime Stoppers. 

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