The woman at the centre of an alleged deadly mushroom poisoning scandal that killed three people in eastern Victoria has been taken in for questioning about the deaths.
Erin Patterson was seen on video arriving at Wonthaggi Police Station alongside detectives on Thursday afternoon, the first sighting of her following her arrest.
She’s seen in the video calmly exiting an unmarked police car and entering the back of the station, followed by a stream of officers.
In a major development to the case, which has attracted national and international attention, Victoria Police confirmed homicide squad detectives had arrested Ms Patterson shortly after 8am on Thursday morning.
Photos from her Leongatha home show technology detecting dogs being led through the property by AFP officers, as they sniff inside Ms Patterson's car and around the outside of the home.
More than five hours after she was taken into custody, Detective Inspector Dean Thomas confirmed Ms Patterson was yet to be interviewed, as police continue to raid her home in Leongatha.
He told reporters Ms Patterson would be interviewed by detectives once the search was complete.
“We will provide updates as the day progresses,” Inspector Thomas said.
“Over the last three months this investigation has been subject to incredibly intense levels of public scrutiny and curiosity.
“I cannot think of another level of media and public interest.”
Inspector Thomas said the arrest was the next step in a “complex and thorough investigation” by homicide detectives.
“I know people have many questions in relation to this matter and will be hopeful that I can provide them today. However it’s not that simple,” he said.
“While we do want to provide updates in a timely matter, it is critical that doing this does not adversely impact the current investigation or any future processes.
“I encourage people to be particularly mindful of unnecessary speculation and the sharing of misinformation.”
A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed a search warrant had been executed at Ms Patterson’s Gibson St address on Thursday morning, with assistance from the AFP’s technology detector dogs.
“The woman will now be interviewed by police and the investigation remains ongoing,” the spokesperson said.
No charges have been laid.
Inspector Thomas said a tragedy like this could “reverberate” for years in smaller communities like Leongatha and Korumburra.
“These are three people who by all accounts were much beloved in their communities, and are greatly missed by their loved ones,” he said.
“I think it‘s particularly important that we keep in mind that at the heart of this, three people have lost their lives.”
Ms Patterson cooked a beef wellington dish, which is alleged to have contained deadly death cap mushrooms, on July 29, served it to four people at a lunch at her home.
Her former parents-in-law Don and Gail Patterson and Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson died from symptoms consistent with death cap mushroom poisoning after the lunch.
Ms Wilkinson’s husband, Ian, survived.
“Four people were taken to hospital on July 30 after they became ill following a meal at a private residence in Leongatha the previous day,” Victoria Police said in a statement.
“Two Korumburra women, aged 66 and 70, passed away in hospital on August 4.
“A third person, a 70-year-old Korumburra man, passed away in hospital on August 5.
“A 69-year-old Korumburra man was released from hospital on 23 September.”
Ms Patterson has been questioned by police since the trio’s deaths.
She has denied any wrongdoing, and previously said she does not know what caused the trio’s deaths.
In a statement given to police in August, Ms Patterson confirmed mushrooms she used in the dish were a combination of button mushrooms bought at a supermarket chain and dried ones from an Asian grocery store in Melbourne months prior.
“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones. I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved,” she said.
In the same statement, Ms Patterson said her children had consumed leftovers of the meal but she had scraped the mushrooms off the meal.
The death cap mushroom is responsible for 90 per cent of all deaths related to mushroom consumption.
All parts of the fungus are poisonous and even eating a small amount can be fatal.
In August, hundreds of mourners farewelled the Pattersons at the Korumburra Recreation Centre.
Simon, the son of Gail and Don and Erin’s ex-husband, revealed the heartbreaking final text his mum sent while she was in hospital.
“It was no fluke that mum’s final text message on our family group chat as she lay in Dandenong hospital was: ‘Lots of love to you all’,” he told a crowd of mourners.
“As Mum and Dad lay in comas in the hospital in their final days and each day … we were unsure if they would recover or not.
“It was comforting to know that when we said: ‘See you later,’ we knew it was true.
“The only thing we didn’t know was when.
“In the meantime, we’ll miss them.”
The couple were well-liked in Korumburra, a town of about 5,800 people, two hours southeast of Melbourne.