Grieving community members gathered at a small town Catholic church to remember their three friends who died during a deadly mushroom lunch.
Erin Patterson, 48, invited her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian to dinner at her home in Leongatha on July 29.
Mr. and Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Wilkinson all died after eating Erin’s beef wellington, which allegedly contained deadly poisonous mushrooms.
Mr. Wilkinson, a Baptist minister, remains in critical condition.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Korumburra, where the four guests lived, opened its doors to the non-Catholic community on Saturday for “a day of prayer, reflection and solidarity”.
St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Korumburra was opened to the community on Saturday (pictured, locals attending church with flowers)
St Joseph’s Catholic Church announced a ‘day of prayer, reflection and solidarity’ on Saturday (pictured, people entering the church)
Heather and Ian Wilkinson (above) attended Erin Patterson’s deadly beef wellington lunch on July 29 – Heather died of suspected mushroom poisoning while Ian remains in critical condition
Parishioner Ken Loughnan told reporters the open house would be a chance for the small town to come together.
“It’s a very tight-knit community, but all over Australia, small towns are like that where everyone is shopping in the same supermarket and whatever, so people get to know each other very well,” a- he declared.
“When a tragedy happens in a small community, it really hurts and it’s been a tough time over the past three weeks for people.
“So we have taken the opportunity to open the doors of our church here today, not only for Catholics, but for the whole community because after all, we are all the people of God.
“It’s a great opportunity to come together…it’s part of the future, I think Korumburra, that we can rebuild the community.”
Mr Loughnan described the day as a chance for all parts of the Christian and non-religious community to come together.
Parishioner Ken Loughnan (above) told reporters the open house was a chance for the small town to come together
The church hoped the day could be a chance for all parts of the Christian and non-religious community to come together after the deaths of three members of the community (pictured, people at the service)
Don and Gail Patterson (above) died after having lunch with their former daughter-in-law Erin Patterson
Upon entering St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Saturday, visitors were handed a leaflet (above)
‘Obviously these people were very involved in another church in the city so it has to really hit those parts of the community particularly,” he said.
“The community has suffered over the past three weeks and there is a lot of sadness in this community, which is what today is about.
‘It’s natural in any small community people would lean on each other aAnd this today is an important part of the healing process for much appreciation.
Upon entering the church, visitors received a leaflet that read: “Today is a day of prayer, reflection and solidarity.
“In the context of much sadness within the local community over the past few weeks, today we invite all people of Korumburra and surrounding districts to come together as children of God for prayer and reflection. individual.
“We remember with love those who died and we pray especially for Pastor Ian Wilkinson and all those affected by this tragedy.”
On Wednesday, Daily Mail Australia reported that Ms Patterson was an “experienced forager” who – like many families in the area – picked mushrooms when in season.
All members of the Korumburra community were invited to St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Saturday (pictured, a service attendee)
The special service was open to members of different churches in the small town (pictured, two men at the service)
It is believed that Mrs. Patterson’s fatal meal included deadly mushrooms.
Investigating police said Ms Patterson was a person of interest in all three deaths.
She has denied any wrongdoing and Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting she intentionally poisoned her four loved ones.
Her ex-husband Simon Patterson was first invited to lunch but pulled out at the last minute.
Mr Patterson himself spent 21 days in intensive care after collapsing from a mysterious stomach illness at his home in May 2022.
Throughout her stay in hospital, Ms Patterson kept her concerned friends updated on her condition on social media.
Ms Patterson confirmed this week that she had dumped a lawyer she originally hired after police declared her a ‘person of interest’ in the deaths of her in-laws.
The 48-year-old told the ABC she voluntarily provided a statement to police after realizing she had made a “serious error” in giving an interview without comment to investigators on the advice of her lawyer, which she quickly dumped.
Ms Patterson is now represented by a prominent Melbourne criminal lawyer.
On Thursday, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Wendy Steendam told ABC radio that Ms Patterson’s lengthy written account may have hampered the investigation.
Investigating police have declared Ms Patterson (above) a person of interest in all three deaths, they deny any wrongdoing
“What I would say is that whatever is in the media… working on an investigation through the media is not helping our investigation,” Ms Steendam said.
“The matter must be dealt with by us, examined (by) us and determined by us thoroughly what really happened, and using the evidence we must determine and understand exactly what happened and if we can explain what caused the deaths.’
Police have all but stopped commenting on the ongoing investigation, which Ms Steendam says is “long”.
“I don’t think it’s useful to comment further on this investigation,” she said.
“This is an active issue and when we have more to say publicly, we will.” But I think speculating or talking in detail about aspects of the investigation doesn’t help.