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Erin Patterson has come out after preparing toxic mushrooms in a lunch that killed three members of her family.
Patterson, 48, held a lunch in July that ended in the deaths of three family members, including her ex-mom-in-law.
Patterson’s Leongatha property in Australia’s Gippsland region was the site of the tragic occurrence.
On July 29, she gathered with former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, as well as Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband, Ian.
When all four guests became unwell after eating the dish, which contained hand-picked mushrooms, the lunch became lethal.
As a result, they were admitted to the hospital the next day as their situations worsened.
Gail and Heather, aged 70 and 66, died on the Friday as a result of the sickness, while Don, 70, died on Saturday evening.
Ian, 68, is still in serious condition and is said to be waiting for a liver transplant.
Patterson, visibly emotional, addressed the journalists outside her home, where the disastrous meal had taken place.
She denied any wrongdoing, telling 9News: “I didn’t do anything. I loved them, and I’m devastated that they’re gone.”
While sharing her sorrow, she inadvertently mistook Don for Ian, expressing her hope for Don’s recovery.
Patterson spoke briefly but did not reveal any information about the source of the mushrooms or the precise dish she served.
She described Gail as a maternal figure in her life, as her own mother had died four years before.
Patterson said: “Gail was like the mum I didn’t have because my mum passed away four years ago and Gail had never been anything but good and kind to me.
“Ian and Heather were some of the best people I’d ever met. They never did anything wrong to me.
“I’m so devastated about what’s happened and the loss to the community and to the families and to my own children, they’ve lost their grandmother.”
Patterson, who was formerly married to Gail and Don’s son, Simon, had been residing at the Leongatha property for a year, as per the Herald Sun.
During a property search on Saturday, she was reportedly questioned by homicide squad detectives.
She has been released pending the outcome of the investigation.
Patterson was identified as a subject of interest by Detective Inspector Dean Thomas of the Homicide Squad due to her role in the dinner preparation.
He said: “She hasn’t presented with any symptoms but we have to keep an open mind in relation to this, that it could be very innocent but again we just don’t know at this point.”
He did, however, underline that the probe is still open to a variety of scenarios, including inadvertent poisoning.
While Patterson’s children were present for the lunch, they ate different meals and had no detrimental effects.
They were, however, brought to the hospital as a precaution and are no longer under Patterson’s care.
Authorities are currently investigating the likelihood that the deaths were caused by the eating of deadly death cap mushrooms.
To provide insight on the incident, several objects have been seized for forensic study.
The inquiry is still underway, and Detective Inspector Thomas emphasised the significance of medical professionals and toxicologists in understanding the facts behind the unfortunate tragedy.
The Patterson and Wilkinson families issued a joint statement expressing their shock and grief over the loss of their loved ones.
It read, as reported in the local paper, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times (via MailOnline): “The past week has been a time of shock and grief for us all.
“They were parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and pillars of faith within our community.”
“Their love, steadfast faith, and selfless service have left an indelible mark on our families, the Korumburra Baptist Church, the local community, and indeed, people around the globe.
“Our families will assist appropriate authorities in any way we can and respect any necessary processes amidst this tragedy.”