A Victorian woman at the centre of an alleged deadly mushroom lunch that killed three people has been arrested and charged with murder more than three months after the fatal meal.

Erin Patterson, 48, was taken to Wonthaggi Police Station on Thursday with police carrying out an extensive search of her home.

On Thursday evening she was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

She has denied any wrongdoing, and previously said she doesn’t know what caused the tragic deaths of her inlaws and their relative.

Here is how the scandal unfolded.

Saturday, July 29

Erin Patterson hosts a lunch at her home in Leongatha in Victoria’s Gippsland region, two hours southeast of Melbourne, for four people — the parents of her estranged husband, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, and Heather’s husband Ian, 68, the pastor at Korumburra Baptist Church.

She serves them a beef wellington dish allegedly containing death cap mushrooms.

If consumed, death cap mushrooms attack the liver and can be fatal if treatment isn’t sought out quickly.

However, the mushroom can cause extensive damage before the person has any symptoms.

Don, Gail, Heather and Ian all begin to fall sick at around midnight that evening.

Neither Ms Patterson nor her two primary school-age children suffer any injuries.

Sunday, July 30

All four lunch guests are admitted to either the Korumburra or Leongatha hospitals with food poisoning-type symptoms, and are later taken to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.

Don, Gail and Heather die from symptoms consistent with death cap mushroom poisoning. Ian is left in critical condition.

Saturday, August 5

Investigators execute a search warrant at the Leongatha home where the lunch was served.

Homicide detectives interview Ms Patterson but she is later released.

She initially tells police she bought the mushrooms at a local shop, Seven News reports.

Monday, August 7

Victoria Police hold a press conference about the deaths.

Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Dean Thomas confirms Ms Patterson is a suspect in the case.

He reveals she had separated from her husband, Simon Patterson, but police understand the relationship was still amicable.

Inspector Thomas says she is a suspect because “she cooked those meals”, but emphasises it is a “complex case” and “it could be very innocent”.

“We’re working to determine what has gone on, to see if there is any nefarious activity that has occurred or if it was accidental,” he says.

“We have to keep an open mind.”

Later that day, a tearful Ms Patterson speaks to the media outside her home.

“I didn’t do anything,” she says.

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

She confuses Don for Ian, who is still being treated.

“I hope that every fibre of my being that Don pulls through,” she says.

“I’m so devastated by what’s happened, by the loss of Don, Don is still in hospital, by the loss of Ian and Heather and Gail. They were some of the best people I’ve ever met.”

She says Gail was “like the mum I didn’t have because my mum passed away four years ago, Gail had never been anything but good and kind to me”.

“Ian and Heather were some of the best people I’d ever met,” she says.

“They never did anything wrong to me. I’m so devastated about what’s happened and the loss to the community and to the families and to my own children. They’ve lost their grandmother. I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives.”

Tuesday, August 8

Police conduct forensic tests on a food dehydrator found at a Gippsland tip to see if it is linked to the deaths, The Age reports.

In brief comments to the media outside her house, Ms Patterson says she’s “going s**thouse”.

“What happened is devastating and I’m grieving too,” she says.

Thursday, August 10

A close friend of Simon’s reveals that Ms Patterson had arranged the lunch as part of a bid for reconciliation with her ex, and that Simon was also invited but pulled out at the last minute.

“They went to her house for a mediation to talk to the family,” the friend tells The Daily Mail.

“Simon was supposed to go there for lunch but he pulled out in the last minute otherwise he would be in that death bed too.”

The friend adds Simon was not interested in getting back with the mother of his children.

Simon’s family was worried about Ms Patterson’s “mental state” so they accepted the lunch invitation to “make sure she was in the right mental health to resume a relationship with Simon”, the friend says.

Monday, August 14

A detailed written statement from Ms Patterson, sent to Victoria Police on Friday, is obtained by the ABC.

Ms Patterson says she wants to “clear up the record” and urges people “not be so quick to rush to judgment”.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” she says.

Ms Patterson says in the statement that she too became ill after eating the beef wellington dish, and explains she gave the leftovers to police as evidence.

She confirms she dumped a food dehydrator at a local tip following a conversation about the gadget with her children.

She says the fungi used in the dish were a mixture of button mushrooms bought at a supermarket chain and dried ones from an Asian grocery store in Melbourne months prior.

Ms Patterson clarifies that her children were not present at the meal and they ate the leftovers the following night — but that they did not like mushrooms so she “scraped” them off.

Tuesday, August 15

A photo from inside the Korumburra home previously owned by Ms Patterson shows a creepy “death wall” with disturbing children’s drawings of tombstones and an ominous warning that “you don’t [have] long to live”.

The picture, obtained by news.com.au, was snapped in 2022 by a tradie who was asked by a real estate agent to paint the wall so the property could be sold.

“We started calling it the death wall,” he says.

The same day, a friend of the family tells The Daily Mail that Ms Patterson was an experienced forager who was known to pick wild mushrooms around the Gippsland region.

Wednesday, August 16

Ms Patterson laments “being painted as an evil witch”.

“The media is making it impossible for me to live in this town,” she tells The Australian outside her home.

Thursday, August 31

At least 350 mourners attend a memorial service for Don and Gail Patterson in Korumburra.

Simon reveals the final text his mother sent to the family group chat as she lay dying in hospital: “Lots of love to you all.”

Friday, September 22

Ian Wilkinson is discharged from hospital after making “significant progress” in his recovery, his family says.

“The Wilkinson family will continue to cherish the support and goodwill of the community as they focus on Ian’s wellbeing and path ahead,” the statement reads.

“The family is profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support, prayers and well-wishes from the Korumburra community, church, friends, family and colleagues.”

Thursday, September 28

Forensic testing reportedly confirms mushroom poisoning to be the official cause of death of the three victims.

“Police were working towards the hypothesis that mushrooms were the cause of death now that has been confirmed by the forensic test they have another piece of the puzzle,” University of Newcastle criminologist Dr Xanthe Mallett says.

Wednesday, October 4

Mr Wilkinson makes his first public appearance after being released from hospital to attend the memorial for his wife of 44 years.

About 300 family and friends gather to honour Heather Wilkinson at Korumburra Recreation Centre.

There is no mention of Erin Patterson throughout the 90-minute service, nor any reference to the tragic lunch.

Thursday, November 2

Police arrest and later charge Erin Patterson with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

— with NCA NewsWire and staff writers

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