Leongatha mushroom deaths: criminologist Xanthe Mallett on the thriller that shook Australia – and what a ‘food dehydrator’ does when the merchandise of curiosity is discovered with a tip

The Victorian mushroom poisoning by which three folks died and one needed to struggle for all times comprises ‘suspicious elements’, claims a number one criminologist.

Erin Patterson, 48, invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, together with Gail’s sister Heather and her husband Ian, to a household gathering at her property in Leongatha within the Gippsland area of Victoria on Saturday, July 29.

All 4 visitors turned ailing after consuming the meal – believed to be laced with extremely toxic mushrooms – and went to hospital the subsequent day.

Don and Gail, each 70, and Heather, 66, have since died, whereas Ian, 68, is in crucial situation in hospital.

Police investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the lunch have additionally found a used meals dehydrator – which they imagine was used to arrange the mushroom dish – dumped at a Gippsland landfill.

The case took a stunning activate Tuesday after it emerged that Erin’s ex-husband Simon Patterson fell ailing final June and almost died of a mysterious abdomen sickness.

Newcastle University criminologist Dr Xanthe Mallett mentioned police would take a look at ‘all possibilities’ throughout their investigation. The prospects embrace that the deaths could possibly be as a consequence of harmless circumstances.

“The question mark the police will investigate is whether the poisoning was intentional or a misadventure,” she advised Daily Mail Australia.

“Three people have unfortunately died and we have an unexplained illness. But we don’t have enough facts yet to conclude what really happened.’

Erin Patterson, 48, (pictured) invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, along with Gail’s sister Heather and her husband Ian, to a family gathering at her estate in Leongatha in Victoria’s Gippsland region on July 29.

Dr. Mallett said the circumstances surrounding the mystery illness will likely be investigated again.

“That’s something I’d like to do and ask those questions,” she mentioned.

“To determine if there is a connection.”

She mentioned researchers would maintain an “open mind.”

“There seems to be a potential for a pattern of unusual disease,” she mentioned.

“It may be totally unimportant, but the police will look at the history to see if there is a pattern of unexplained illnesses.”

Dr. Mallett mentioned the dehydrator can be used as a key piece of proof, with forensics testing the system for fingerprints and traces of the mushrooms, in addition to proof from the our bodies of the deceased.

“They will try to find out who had access to the dehydrator, who came into contact with it and what it was used for,” she mentioned.

When requested why the police had not revealed whether or not Erin had eaten the mushroom dish, the criminologist mentioned that for “investigative reasons” the police would watch out about what info they launched to the general public.

“They’re going to be careful about what (information) they release and when… they don’t want the public jumping to conclusions,” she mentioned.

Newcastle University criminologist Dr Xanthe Mallett (pictured) mentioned police would take a look at ‘all possibilities’ throughout their investigation

It was revealed on Tuesday that Erin’s former husband spent three weeks in ICU and narrowly escaped dying after falling ailing with a mysterious abdomen ailment.

“I collapsed at home and then was in an induced coma for 16 days, which led me to have three emergency surgeries, mainly on my small intestine, plus an additional scheduled surgery,” Patterson wrote on social media in June 2022.

“My family has been asked twice to say goodbye to me because I was not expected to live. I spent 21 days in intensive care, then a week in the general ward and now in a rehab center.’

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting that Erin Patterson was in any way guilty or responsible for his illness last year or the three deaths earlier this week. Daily Mail Australia also does not suggest that police suspect Ms Patterson was in any way at fault or responsible for the illnesses or deaths, only that there is reason to investigate.

Mrs Patterson, 48, was married to Simon, the son of Don and Gail Patterson.

The couple, who share two children, have been separated in recent years but were in a friendly relationship prior to the Pattersons’ deaths, according to police.

Erin lived in Leongatha’s house where lunch was held, while Simon reportedly lived in another property.

Three people have died and one is fighting for life after eating poisonous mushrooms over the weekend. The picture shows Leongatha’s house where lunch was held on Saturday

Flowers have been left at the gate of the property as the community reacts to the tragedy

What is a Food Dehydrator?

A food dehydrator is a device that uses air and heat to remove moisture from food to aid in its preservation.

The device preserves the nutrients and flavors of the food inside and prevents the growth of yeast, bacteria and mold.

People often use a food dehydrator to dry fruits, vegetables and meat.

Many of the appliances have a heating element and fan that circulate warm air around the appliance to dry food and remove moisture.

Drying out food can create concentrated flavors and crunchy textures.

Daily Mail Australia understands that Erin is a stay-at-home mom while Simon works in the real estate industry.

Police searched Leongatha’s house on Saturday and seized some items used during the preparation of the meal.

A police source close to the investigation told The Age on Tuesday that a food dehydrator had also been discovered in a nearby rubbish dump and was also believed to have been used at lunchtime.

Forensics are underway to find traces of the death’s-head mushroom.

Detectives were seen visiting Erin at the property on Sunday night. She was heard “crying loudly” earlier than officers left, in line with 7News.

The subsequent day, the police introduced that she was being handled as an individual of curiosity within the case.

Speaking to reporters outdoors her house, an emotional Erin Patterson mentioned she was devastated by what occurred and denied any wrongdoing.

“I didn’t do anything,” she mentioned Monday, wiping away tears.

“I loved them and I’m devastated that they’re gone.”

She then mistakenly confused Don with Ian by expressing her “hope” that “Don pulls through,” including that her visitors had all the time handled her kindly.

Victoria Police Detective Inspector Dean Thomas confirmed on Monday that Erin was being handled as an individual of curiosity.

An emotional Erin Patterson (pictured) spoke to reporters outdoors her house and mentioned she was devastated by what occurred and denied any wrongdoing

Real property images present mushrooms rising on the base of a tree on the Leongatha property

“She (Erin) has not shown any symptoms, but we have to be open to this, that it could be very harmless, but again, we just don’t know at this point,” he advised reporters.

“We’re working to try and determine what happened, whether nefarious activity took place or whether it’s an accidental situation.”

Mr Thomas described the case as a ‘very, very complex case’ and mentioned detectives would work with toxicologists and medical consultants.

Detectives imagine the mushrooms the Pattersons and Wilkinsons ate have been dying caps.

Authorities have urged the general public to be cautious of consuming mushrooms that weren’t bought from a grocery store.

Death caps are identified to trigger digestive issues — together with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting — and extreme liver injury.

In April, the Victorian Department of Health warned residents of the hazards of skullcap and yellow-colored toadstools, which develop everywhere in the state in autumn.


Saturday July 29

Don and Gail Patterson and Heather and Ian Wilkinson go to Erin Patterson’s home in Leongatha for lunch.

Sunday July 30

The 4 lunch visitors who come to the hospital really feel sick. At first they’re thought to have gastro. As their situation worsens, they’re being transferred to Melbourne hospitals.

Friday August 4

Gail and Heather die in hospital.

Saturday August 5

Don dies in hospital. The police search Erin Patterson’s house in Leongatha and seize various gadgets.

Sunday August 6

The police return to Erin’s home to query her. She hears loud crying from inside the home earlier than the 4 officers depart.

Monday August 7

Dean Thomas, Detective Inspector of the Victoria Police Department, confirms that Erin is being handled as an individual of curiosity within the case.

However, he says the investigation continues to be in its early levels and it has but to be decided whether or not the deaths are suspicious.

A short while later, Erin breaks her silence and speaks to reporters outdoors the home. She says she is devastated and “loves” the 4 members of the family who got here to her house. She denies any allegations, however gained’t reply questions on the place the mushrooms come from, who picked them or what sort of meal she ready for her visitors.

Tuesday August 8

In a weird twist, it was revealed that Simon Patterson suffered from a mysterious abdomen sickness in June 2022. He fell right into a coma and was in ICU for 21 days. His case has but to be defined by medical doctors.

Forensic exams are underway to seek out traces of a dying’s-head mushroom on a dehydrator found in a dump. The police suspect that it was used in the course of the preparation of the meal.