Australia arrests woman over lunch that killed three


Australian police said on Thursday they had arrested a 49-year-old woman over the deaths of three elderly people in August after they consumed poisonous mushrooms at a lunch hosted by her, according to local media reports.

Victoria state police said they were searching the woman's house with the help of technology detector dogs - trained to sniff out tiny electronic devices such as USBs and SIM cards, which are easy to hide.

"Today's arrest is just the next step in what has been a complex and thorough investigation by homicide squad detectives and one that is not yet over," Dean Thomas, the detective in charge of the investigation, told a news conference on Thursday.

Police will interview the woman once the search is complete, he added.

Don Patterson, his wife, Gail, and her sister Heather Wilkinson became ill and later died after lunch on July 29 in Leongatha, a small rural town around 135 km southeast of Melbourne.

A fourth man, Wilkinson's husband, Ian, a pastor in a nearby town was released from hospital in September.

The mysterious deaths have gripped Australia. Deaths from consuming mushrooms are relatively rare in the country, which has several species, including the "death cap" mushroom, that is dangerous enough to kill a human.

More from International

  • North Korea says latest satellite launch exploded in flight

    North Korea said its attempt to launch a new military reconnaissance satellite ended in failure on Monday when a newly developed rocket engine exploded in flight.

  • Israeli attack on Rafah tent camp kills 45

    An Israeli airstrike triggered a massive blaze killing 45 people in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court ruling to halt Israel's assault.

  • Over 2,000 could be buried in Papua New Guinea landslide, authorities say

    More than 2,000 people could be buried alive by a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea last week, the government said on Monday, as treacherous terrain and the difficulty of getting aid to the site raises the risk few survivors will be found.

  • At least 18 killed in US storms

    Powerful storms killed at least 18 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas after obliterating homes and destroying a truck stop where dozens sought shelter in a restroom during the latest deadly weather to strike the central US.

  • Cyclone Remal leaves millions without electricity

    Strong winds and heavy rain pounded the coastal regions of Bangladesh and India as severe cyclone Remal made landfall on Sunday, leaving millions without electricity after power poles fell and trees were uprooted by gusty winds.