Four relatives attended a family lunch in Australia, and a week later three of them are dead.
The mystery meal served in the Leongatha neighborhood of Victoria is now at the center of a homicide investigation. The family members died of suspected "death cap" mushroom poisoning, Victoria police said.
It all started in late July when 48-year-old Erin Patterson had her former parents-in-law and her mother-in-law's sister and husband over for lunch, according to CNN. Days later, 70-year-old Gail Patterson and her sister, 66-year-old Heather Wilkinson, died at the hospital, followed by Gail's 70-year-old husband, Don, the next day.
The fourth guest, Wilkinson's 68-year-old husband and reverend, Ian, is hospitalized in critical condition. The news has shaken the small town as church community members rally around Ian Wilkinson, who needs a liver transplant, CNN said.
"Investigators executed a search warrant at a residence in Leongatha," Victoria police said in a press release after the family members fell ill.
Police interviewed Erin Patterson, who cooked the meal and didn't fall ill. She denies any wrongdoing.
"I'm so devastated about what happened," Patterson told reporters at Australia's Network Nine.
Victoria Police Det. Inspector Dean Thomas said Patterson and her husband were separated, but police were told their relationship was amicable, according to the Associated Press.
It is still being determined whether the poisoning was accidental or intentional.
A death cap mushroom is a type of fungus that is extremely poisonous and deadly, according to WebMD. They are not toxic to touch but dangerous when ingested.
"Death cap mushrooms have large concentrations of toxins that can be fatal even in small doses," WebMD said.
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