A toxicologist has revealed how Victoria’s mushroom victims suffered in agony before, in a cruel twist, they would have felt much better moments before they died.
Erin Paterson invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian to a lunch at her home in Leongatha, Gippsland, Victoria on July 29.
After she served them a beef wellington Don and Gail, both 70, and Heather, 66, all died.
Ian is gravely ill in hospital and awaits a liver transplant.
All four are believed to have eaten death cap mushrooms.
Forensic toxicologist Dr Michael Robertson told Channel 9‘s Under Investigation that victims of death cap mushroom poisoning can suffer from an unbearable illness before starting to feel better.
But the feeling of relief doesn‘t last long, as the victim’s body shuts down completely a short time later.
Robertson said that victims will usually begin to feel unwell several hours after consuming the lethal mushrooms – with “violent” vomiting and diarrhoea generally the first signs of poisoning.
However, in a cruel twist, the victim will actually soon begin to feel better leading them to believe that the worst is over.
But even though the toxins are leaving the body in this process, it continues to slowly shut down.
He said: “It’s one of those toxins that gets into your system.
“It gets absorbed into the bloodstream, it then gets transported to the liver and absorbed. The body doesn‘t break this toxin down.
“We’ve got to get rid of it usually in the urine but also in the bile, and the bile duct drops bile back into the intestines.
“It‘s triggering basically the death of the liver cells,” he added.
The toxicologist warned that it would also have been possible for the victims of the alleged death cap mushroom poisoning to have fallen into comas following Erin‘s lunch.
“It would‘ve been horrible if they remained conscious,” he said.
“They may have gone into a coma, if they remained conscious certainly that first day would‘ve been absolutely horrific.”
Robertson‘s comments were backed up by Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp, a fungus researcher.
The mycologist added that alongside the initial vomiting period, victims could also begin to hallucinate.
“Mushroom poisoning is so nasty because we don‘t really have an anecdote,” she said.
“On a DNA level, you‘re regurgitating the toxin but slowly and consistently your liver dissolves.”
Erin claimed the deadly beef wellington was made from a mixture of button mushrooms from a major supermarket chain, and dried mushrooms bought from an Asian grocery store in Melbourne months before.
She also said she served the meal and allowed the guests to choose their own plates – as she ate a portion of the beef wellington herself.
In a written statement to investigators, obtained by ABC earlier this month, she revealed she was also hospitalised after the lunch with bad stomach pains and diarrhoea, put on a saline drip, and given a “liver protective drug”.
And despite reports of her children being at the meal, Erin said the kids had gone to the movies before the lunch.
Her children ate the leftovers the following night – but the kids don‘t like mushrooms so she scraped them off, she added.
It was recently revealed that Erin claimed to be an “experienced forager who harvested wild fungi near her home”.
A family friend, who has not been identified, told Daily Mail Australia: “The Patterson family (including Erin and Simon) would pick mushrooms each year when they were in season.
“It’s very common for people to go mushroom picking around that area.”
The friend added: “The family would go foraging regularly and knew what to pick.”
A tradesman has also come forward to reveal what he called a “death wall” inside Erin‘s former home in Korumburra.
He said he was hired to paint the inside last year so it could be flogged.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told news.com.au: “I’ve looked at it and gone, ‘Holy s***, what the hell’s going on here?’”
Haunting images show red, blue, and black graffiti on the kitchen wall.
One chilling drawing shows two stick figures with the words “I am dead” and ”no I am really dead”.
Beside them appear to be three tombstones with the words “grandma RIP”, ”Hannah RIP” and “Me RIP” on them.
Other parts read “you don‘t [have] long to live 1 hour exactly”, “your [sic] dead from my sword” and ”get ready”.
The painter, 46, added: “I went, ‘This is actually really scary for kids to do this inside the kitchen-dining room’. I didn’t think it was right, it looked scary”.
He said he believes Erin explained the drawings happened when she had “gone out or something and the kids were there and had done that while they were out”.
Erin has since denied any wrongdoing and hit back at suspicions, claiming she is “being painted as an evil witch”.
She told the Herald Sun she had become a prisoner in her home – branding the coverage of the case “unfair”.
She has denied murdering her guests, saying she had “no reason” to hurt them.
Victoria Police have begun an investigation as they try and get to the bottom of just how this tragedy occurred.
– With The Sun