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Professor Allegedly Killed his Boyfriend as Part of a Sexual Fantasy

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A Northwestern University professor and a British man stabbed the professor’s 26-year-old boyfriend to death in a Chicago apartment, as part of a sexual fantasy that they cultivated on an online forum, local prosecutors said. The men have now been charged with first-degree murder and are being held without bail.

Former microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem, 42, and payroll assistant at Oxford University’s Somerville College Andrew Warren, 56, met online. They had been communicating for months about their sexual fantasies about killing someone and then killing themselves.

Lathem paid for Warren to fly to the U.S., picked him up at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, and paid for a hotel room close to where he lived. A couple of days later, on July 27, Lathem let Warren into his apartment while his boyfriend Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau was asleep, prosecutors said.

Lathem asked Warren to record a video of what was happening on his cellphone before he allegedly began stabbing his boyfriend. According to prosecutors, Cornell-Duranleau woke up and started fighting back. Lathem urged Warren to help him, and he hit Cornell-Duranleau in the head with a lamp. The victim was stabbed 70 times. The stab wounds were so severe that Cornell-Duranleau was nearly decapitated and one of the knives broke.

Prosecutors said that Cornell-Duranleau’s last words were, “Wyndham, what are you doing?” The two men had initially planned to kill each other after the murder–Lathem was supposed to stab Warren as Warren shot Lathem. But instead, they fled across the country in a rented car. Lathem donated $5,610 in cash in Cornell-Duranleau’s name to a Chicago LGBTQ health center. They then drove to Geneva, Wisconsin, where Lathem made a $1,000 donation to the local public library, also in the victim’s name.

On August 4, the men turned themselves into the police in California, after Lathem reportedly sent video messages to his friends and family admitting the killing. He allegedly said, “he is not the person people thought he was.” Due to the brutal murder and the eight-day manhunt that followed, the judge declared both men a flight risk and a potential danger to the public.

During a bond hearing on Sunday, Lathem’s lawyer, Barry Sheppard, presented dozens of letters from Lathem’s friends and colleagues, meant to corroborate the image of the professor as an accomplished, law-abiding citizen. Judge Adam D. Bourgeois Jr. disregarded the documents.

“The heinous facts speak for themselves,” he said, before ordering the men to be held without bail. But Sheppard once again emphasized, in front of reporters after the hearing, that Lathem “has led a life of outstanding, unblemished citizenship” and that the public should not rush to judgment. The next hearing will take place Tuesday.

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at EVonZeipel@LawStreetMedia.com.

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