Warren, left, and Lathem, right. Photo: Chicago Police Department
Prosecutors in Chicago revealed details for the first time Sunday in the gruesome homicide there on July 27 that ended with two suspects being arrested and briefly held here in the Bay Area. The allegations against the pair, who had never met in person before last month and were both employed by prestigious academic institutions, reveal a bizarre murder-suicide plot that apparently involved killing two individuals, and then killing each other simultaneously.
The Chicago Tribune reports that recently fired Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem, 42, allegedly met 56-year-old Oxford University employee Andrew Warren in an online chat room, and in late July paid for his plane ticket to Chicago so that the two could enact a sexual fantasy of murdering people and then killing each other. They apparently stopped short of fulfilling the entire plan, leaving Chicago together and hitting the road, headed to the Bay Area, with Lathem expressing his regrets about the killing in a video that was sent to friends and family. In the video, according to prosecutors, Lathem “elaborated that he is not the person people thought he was,” and said that he’d made “the biggest mistake of my life.”
In court on Sunday for a bail hearing, prosecutors said that Lathem paid to put Warren up in a hotel near his Chicago apartment, and then “lured” their first victim, 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, to the apartment on the night of July 26. He then texted Warren to come over at 4:30 the next morning after Cornell-Duranleau, and alledly instructed Warren to take a cellphone video of him stabbing and killing Cornell-Duranleau.
Cornell-Duranleau was apparently stabbed 70 times, as the Associated Press reports.
Per the Tribune’s gruesome details, picked up by Chicagoist, via Assistant State’s Attorney Natosha Toller:
As Warren stood in the doorway to the bedroom, cellphone in hand, Lathem stabbed the sleeping Cornell-Duranleau “over and over in the neck and chest area,” Toller said.
Cornell-Duranleau woke up and began to scream and fight back, prosecutors said.
Lathem cried to Warren for help, Toller said, so Warren walked in and put his hands on the victim’s mouth, then hit him in the head with a heavy metal lamp.
Warren left to get two kitchen knives, prosecutors said, and both men then leaned over Cornell-Duranleau and stabbed him again and again, prosecutors said. Warren was stabbing with such force that he broke the blade of one of the knives he used, prosecutors said.
The attack apparently left Cornell-Duranleau nearly decapitated, and prosecutors also reported the detail that when he woke up to find his boyfriend stabbing him, his last words were “Wyndham, what are you doing?”
Warren has also apparently told authorities that the two had planned on killing a second victim of Lathem’s choosing.
In addition to stopping to make a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau to a public library in Wisconsin, which was previously reported, the pair apparently also made a $5,610 donation to the Howard Brown Health Center, an LGBT health and social services provider.
They took off sometime on July 27, driving thousands of miles to the Bay Area and setting off a nationwide manhunt after Lathem apparently called his own apartment building front desk from the library to tell them where the body was.
Both men surrendered peacefully to authorities in Oakland and San Francisco on August 4 after over a week on the lam.
Lathem’s attorney Barry Sheppard has already submitted letters of support for Lathem written by colleagues, which the judge in the case has already dismissed as irrelevant.
Both Warren and Lathem continue to be held without bail after being extradited to Chicago.
Per the Tribune, Sheppard told reporters Sunday that his client “has led a life of outstanding, unblemished citizenship,” and “We simply ask the public to patiently allow the legal system to work.”