A woman caught in the middle of a recent beef wellington poisoning in Australia that killed three people and put one in critical condition revealed that she bought the mushrooms used in the dish from an Asian grocer in Melbourne.
Key details: In her sworn written statement to the police, Erin Patterson, 48, denied committing any wrongdoing. She was also unable to explain how the poisoning happened and said she kept the leftover beef wellington as evidence for the investigation, according to The Age.
What happened: The woman’s in-laws, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70 years old, and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, died a few days after a lunch gathering at Erin Patterson’s home in the town of Leongatha in Victoria, Australia, on July 29, during which she served the beef wellington. Heather’s husband, Korumburra Baptist Church pastor Ian Wilkinson, 68, is in critical condition.
About the mushrooms: In her statement, Patterson claimed she bought a pack of dried, hand-labeled mushrooms from an Asian grocer in Mount Waverley, Melbourne, three months before the fatal incident. She reportedly prepared the dish by combining the mushrooms she bought from the Asian grocery with other mushrooms purchased from a supermarket.
Gathering evidence: The woman told the Department of Health after the victims’ hospitalization where she bought the mushrooms. It was later reportedly confirmed that the samples she provided were the same ones gathered from the unnamed Asian grocer.
Their response: TK Asian Supermarket, one of the most popular Asian grocery stores in the area, told Daily Mail Australia that they had never heard of anyone getting sick from their mushrooms, noting that they have “no idea if she [Patterson] bought them here.” One of the shopkeepers said they had never sold a pack with the same handwritten, white label as the woman described.
Two other Asian grocers in the area, East Mart and 28 Mart, also spoke up, with the former stating that they only sell frozen and fresh mushrooms, while the latter disputed the notion that poisonous mushrooms are being sold in Mount Waverley.
Other details: Patterson admitted in her written statement that she intentionally disposed of the food dehydrator she used for the dish, claiming that she panicked after people started accusing her of poisoning her guests.
She also noted that her son and daughter, who were not in the house during the lunch gathering, ate leftovers of the dish. She said her children never fell ill as they purportedly scraped off the mushroom from the beef wellington.
What the police are saying: Although the case is still under investigation, homicide squad Detective Inspector Dean Thomas told The Age that while the woman is still considered a suspect since she prepared the meal, they are also considering the possibility of accidental poisoning “not at the hands of somebody else.”