People

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Courts & Trials

Ex-Northwestern Professor Allegedly Stabbed Boyfriend to Death in ‘Heinous’ Sexual Fantasy

Posted on

 

A former Northwestern University microbiology professor and an Oxford University employee allegedly plotted for months before luring a Chicago hairstylist to his death in what officials described on Sunday as a “heinous” sexual fantasy of murder-suicide, PEOPLE confirms.

Ex-teacher Wyndham Lathem, 43, and 56-year-old Andrew Warren remained in jail on Monday without bond, just weeks after they surrendered to California authorities in the fatal stabbing of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, 26, whose body was found in Lathem’s Chicago high-rise apartment on July 27.

After prosecutors shared details of the slaying in court on Sunday, Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. deemed both suspects flight risks and potentially dangerous. He ordered that they remain in custody pending trial on first-degree murder charges and was visibly struck by the prosecution’s version of events.

“The heinous facts speak for themselves,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors claim that Lathem communicated with Warren in an online chatroom for months about carrying out their fantasies of killing other people and then themselves. They allegedly chose their first victim as Lathem’s boyfriend, Cornell-Duranleau, according to authorities.

A prosecutor said in court that Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed 70 times — so viciously that he was nearly decapitated. His throat was slit, his lungs were punctured and he had wounds to his liver, spleen and colon.

Trenton Cornell-Duranleau
Facebook

A Gruesome Killing

Prosecutors said that Lathem purchased a flight to the U.S. for Warren — an employee at the Somerville College, which is part of England’s Oxford University network — and the two allegedly planned to kill Cornell-Duranleau before killing each other as part of their fantasies.

Warren arrived in Chicago a few days before the killing and, on July 26, Lathem allegedly lured his boyfriend to his apartment in the 500 block of North State Street in Chicago. According to authorities, Cornell-Duranleau was killed after Warren arrived at the residence around 4: 30 a.m. on July 27:

With Cornell-Duranleau asleep, Lathem allegedly stabbed him repeatedly with a six-inch drywall knife. When the victim woke up and attempted to fight back, Warren allegedly covered Cornell-Duranleau’s mouth and hit him in the head with a heavy lamp.

Warren then went to get two kitchen knives and the two stabbed Cornell-Duranleau repeatedly, prosecutors claim.

According to prosecutors, Cornell-Duranleau’s last words were, “Wyndham, what are you doing?”

Before fleeing the city, Lathem left an anonymous cash donation of $5,610 at a local LGBTQ health center in Cornell-Duranleau’s name, prosecutors said. Hours later, in Wisconsin, the now-fired assistant professor wrote a $1,000 check to a local library and then called his apartment building from the library to report the crime.

Cook County Sheriff's Office

An Intense Manhunt — and Surrender

After the stabbing, investigators immediately turned their focus to Lathem and Warren and so issued first-degree murder warrants for both, launching a nationwide manhunt.

Lathem turned himself in to police in Oakland, California, on Aug. 4 and agreed to be extradited back to Chicago where he is expected to plead not guilty to the murder charge, his attorney, Adam Sheppard, previously told PEOPLE.

Warren was taken into custody by San Francisco police a day later.

“We’re encouraging the public not to jump to any conclusions,” Sheppard has said of his client. “We have received an outpour of support … from [Lathem’s] colleagues, family members and friends. He’s highly accomplished and well-respected in his professional community.”

While on the run, Lathem allegedly sent a video to family and friends, apologizing for what he termed “the worst mistake of my life,” according to investigators, the AP reports.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Both men have admitted to the slaying, prosecutors allege. Authorities also said that Warren allegedly admitted he and Lathem had planned to kill another person, but that he did not know if the other person had ever shown up to Lathem’s condo after they fled.

The men are expected to appear in court next on Tuesday, jail records show. Both will have a chance to enter pleas at a later arraignment, according to the AP.

Lathem’s atorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE on Monday. It is unclear whether Warren has retained an attorney. He has reportedly been suspended from his job as a financial officer.

A Mourning Family

Cornell-Duranleau’s family has remembered him in his obituary as a “youthful free spirit.”

“Throughout his life he loved music and animals,” relatives said in the obituary. “His enthusiasm for life was infectious. Trenton was a caregiver and loved to help others.”

Cornell-Duranleau’s mother, Mischelle, later said in in a Facebook post that the family was asking privacy and was “deeply saddened by the death of our son.”