Woman accused of fatally poisoning her ex-in-laws

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – An Australian woman, Erin Patterson, has been charged with murder in connection with a gruesome case where her former in-laws and one other person died after consuming a meal she prepared. Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 69, fell fatally ill days after sharing a meal of Beef Wellington pie with Patterson on July 29. Authorities suspect that the meal was poisoned with highly toxic death cap mushrooms.

In addition to the murder charge, Erin Patterson faces five counts of attempted murder, including her attempt to poison Heather Wilkinson’s husband, Ian, who survived the tainted meal but remained hospitalized for months.

This case also involves three earlier incidents where Erin’s ex-husband, Simon Patterson, 48, became ill after consuming meals prepared by her in 2021 and 2022. If convicted on all charges, Erin Patterson faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. Simon Patterson, who was supposed to join his family for the ill-fated lunch but changed his plans at the last minute, had previously accused his ex-wife of poisoning his relatives.

Erin Patterson was arrested and questioned by authorities, and her home was searched as part of the ongoing investigation. Detective Inspector Dean Thomas emphasized the complexity and thoroughness of the inquiry, urging people to avoid speculation and misinformation. He expressed condolences to the impacted families.

Erin Patterson has consistently denied any involvement in the deaths, expressing her love and devastation over losing her former in-laws, whom she described as some of the best people she had ever met. Notably, Patterson and her children did not fall ill after the meal, as they had a different menu. Police are investigating the possibility that a discarded food dehydrator found in the trash may have been used in preparing the deadly meal.