A woman who cooked a meal suspected of killing three people and leaving another in hospital fighting for life has penned a statement to police to “clear up the record”.
Couple Gail and Don Patterson, both aged 70, and Mrs Patterson’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, died in hospital after eating lunch at a Leongatha home in Victoria’s southeast on July 29.
Ms Wilkinson’s husband, baptist church pastor Ian Wilkinson, remains in Melbourne’s Alfred hospital in a critical but stable condition.
Homicide detectives have named the Pattersons’ daughter-in-law Erin Patterson as a suspect as she cooked the lunch that is believed to have led to the deaths.
She has been interviewed by police and released without charge but has since faced intense media scrutiny.
Ms Patterson wrote to Victoria Police on Friday, saying she wanted to “clear up the record”.
“I believe if people understood the background more, they would not be so quick to rush to judgment,” she said in a statement, obtained by the ABC.
“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.”
In the statement, the 46-year-old said she regretted giving a “no comment” interview to police and confirmed the meal she prepared was beef wellington.
She claimed she used button mushrooms purchased from a major supermarket and dried mushrooms bought at an Asian grocery store in Melbourne, although she couldn’t remember the name of the city grocer.
The symptoms of those who ate the meal were consistent with being poisoned by deathcap mushrooms, police said.
Ms Patterson said her estranged husband Simon was due to attend the lunch but pulled out prior to the day, while her children were also out of the house at the time of the meal.
The children ate the leftover beef wellington the next day but Ms Patterson scraped off the mushrooms because they don’t usually eat them, the statement said.
Ms Patterson said she ate a serving and later suffered bad stomach pains and diarrhoea, contrary to the suggestion of detectives that she did not fall ill.
In a statement last week, the Gippsland Southern Health Service confirmed a fifth person was discharged after a short presentation at Leongatha.
Ms Patterson admitted she dumped her food dehydrator at a local tip after the lunch, although she lied to investigators and said she had done so “a long time ago”.
Victoria Police have not commented on Ms Patterson’s statement sent to them.
Simon Patterson suffered serious gut problems in 2022, spending three weeks in intensive care and undergoing three emergency operations.
Police previously said the couple had separated but their relationship was amicable.
A spokeswoman for Simon Patterson and a health department representative declined to comment.
The health department is required to act if there is a food safety incident.
The family of Mr Wilkinson released a statement on Sunday to thank hospital staff and the public for their support.