A commemorative event in Australia to honor the couple who passed away after consuming a mushroom beef Wellington prepared by their former daughter-in-law has attracted hundreds of attendees, BBC reports.
Gail and Don Patterson were two of the victims who lost their lives after partaking in the meal hosted by Erin Patterson, which occurred last month. This incident has captured the attention of the nation. Authorities suspect that the Pattersons, along with Don's sister, Heather Wilkinson, ingested deadly death cap mushrooms. Erin Patterson has asserted her innocence and claimed that she mistakenly used the mushrooms.
All four guests fell seriously ill shortly after the lunch, including Ms. Wilkinson's husband, Ian, who is a local pastor. While Ian Wilkinson survived and is currently recovering in the hospital, his wife did not survive.
Despite being considered a suspect by the police and being unharmed herself, Erin Patterson has not been detained or charged. She was not present among the mourners during the memorial service held in Korumburra, a town southeast of Melbourne.
Erin's former husband, Simon Patterson, delivered the primary eulogy. This marked his first public comments on the tragedy. Although he was also invited to the family gathering on July 29th, he was unable to attend at the last moment.
In his heartfelt address, Simon Patterson did not mention his ex-wife by name but characterized his parents as devoted Christians who had been missionaries and had lived by their faith and dedication to others. He shared, "The fact that they passed away on consecutive days reflects the closeness they always strived for."
Simon also disclosed that his 70-year-old father had undergone an emergency liver transplant while in the hospital, and his overall good health had allowed him to survive the procedure. However, he noted that Don's health was compromised in other areas.
Overcome with emotion, Simon Patterson added, "It was no coincidence that my mom's final text message in our family group chat, as she lay in Dandenong Hospital, was 'Lots of love to you all'."
Since the tragic incident, the Australian public has been captivated by the case, with its details receiving significant attention. The national interest in the matter led to the presence of a television crew at the memorial service, broadcasting the event to various channels. Erin Patterson has consistently maintained her innocence and recently issued a statement to police defending her actions.