Woman accused of poisoning ex-husband a year before three died
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A woman who has been named a suspect in the death of three family members has now been accused of poisoning her ex-husband just months earlier.
Police in Victoria, southeast Australia, have confirmed Erin Patterson has been named as a suspect after her former in-laws, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, and her sister, Heather Wilkinson, died after eating a meal at Patterson's home on 29 July.
Police determined all four had consumed poisonous mushrooms known as death caps during the gathering, though neither Patterson nor her two children, who were also at the meal, got sick.
As the investigation continues, a friend of Patterson's ex-husband, Simon Patterson, has now claimed he suspected being poisoned by Patterson last year.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, the friend said: "Simon suspected he had been poisoned by Erin. There were times he had felt… a bit off and it often coincided when he spent time with her.”
Simon himself shared claims of falling sick with a mystery illness in a post shared on social media, in which he wrote: "I collapsed at home, then was in an induced coma for 16 days through which I had three emergency operations mainly on my small intestine, plus an additional planned operation.
"My family were asked to come and say goodbye to me twice, as I was not expected to live. I was in intensive care for 21 days..."
Patterson's split from her husband has been described as 'amicable', and the suspect remains adamant she did nothing wrong at the lunch last month.
Speaking to reporters outside her home, Patterson described those who'd joined her at the gathering as 'some of the best people [she's] ever met'.
"The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can't fathom what has happened," she said.
"I'm so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can't believe it. I didn't do anything, I love them and I'm devastated they are gone."
Police have pointed out that the fact Patterson is being investigated doesn't mean the deaths couldn't have been an accident.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas explained: "I'm not aware of an investigation where we've had three people die as a result of an apparent food poisoning, whether that be by a mushroom or something else - so yes, it is quite unique.
"(Mrs Patterson) has not presented with any symptoms. So again, that forms part of our investigation whether she did or didn't eat any of the mushrooms or anything else that may have been eaten on that particular day."