Woman at center of deadly poisoning case says she bought mushrooms from grocer and supermarket



CNN
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The woman at the center of a suspected mushroom poisoning case that killed three people in Australia claims she bought the ingredients from two separate stores, according to a statement she gave to police cited by public broadcaster ABC.

Erin Patterson, 48, said she wants to “clear up the record” because she had become “extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths” of her loved ones, she was quoted as saying in a statement to police cited by ABC on Monday.

Patterson served a home cooked meal to former parents-in-law Don and Gail Patterson, Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and Heather’s husband, Ian Wilkinson, who were guests at her home in the rural town of Leongatha on July 29, according to Victoria Police.

Among the four relatives who came for lunch, three of them died with symptoms of “death cap” mushroom poisoning, police said during a press briefing last week. One remained under critical condition in hospital.

Victoria Police’s homicide squad, which is investigating the case, urged people to stay away from wild mushrooms and only eat those that are available at supermarkets as they tried to work out the details of the case.

But Patterson claims she bought dried mushrooms from an Asian grocer in Melbourne months ago and button mushrooms from a supermarket chain more recently.

She said both sets of mushrooms were used in a beef wellington that she cooked and served in the family lunch, ABC reported citing Patterson’s statement.

“I am hoping this statement might help in some way. I believe if people understood the background more, they would not be so quick to rush to judgment,” Patterson was quoted as saying in the report.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones. I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved.”

Patterson has not been arrested or charged over the deaths.

In a tearful exchange with local media outside her home last week, Patterson previously denied any wrongdoing.

Reverend Ian Wilkinson remains criticially ill in hospital following the death of his wife, Heather.

Patterson’s full statement to Victoria Police has not been made public. It was also later obtained by The Age newspaper which published a report that matched ABC’s reporting.

Victoria Police declined to comment on the statement.

“There is no further update on the investigation, and we will not be commenting on specific parts of it at this stage,” police told CNN on Tuesday.

Beef wellington is a baked dish that involves encasing a long tenderloin cut in pastry with a pâté or mushroom filling.

In their initial account last week, police said Patterson’s two children were present at the late July family lunch but did not eat the meal.

However according to ABC’s reporting Patterson’s statement said the children were away at the movies. The following evening she served leftovers but scraped the mushrooms off for the children because they do not like them.

Police said they searched Patterson’s home on Saturday and seized a number of objects for forensic testing. Police say they are keeping an open mind about what happened and that the investigation is ongoing.

CNN’s Hilary Whiteman contributed reporting.

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