Pair respected at elite universities surrender in Chicago murder
CHICAGO — After a cross-country manhunt, a former Northwestern University professor and University of Oxford employee are beginning court proceedings for the brutal stabbing death of a 26-year-old hair stylist in Chicago.
The case has involved peculiar twists, including a cash donation in the victim’s name at a Wisconsin library and a videotaped confession sent to friends. The two men surrendered peacefully in California after eight days as fugitives and one appeared in court Monday.
Northwestern microbiologist Wyndham Lathem and Oxford financial officer Andrew Warren were wanted on first-degree murder charges for the death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. An attorney says Lathem intends to plead not guilty.
The body of Cornell-Duranleau was found stabbed to death inside an apartment belonging to Lathem in an upscale neighbourhood near downtown Chicago. The July 27 attack was so violent the blade of the knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was broken, police said. Authorities said the building’s front desk received an anonymous call that a crime had been committed in the 10th floor apartment. When police opened the door, they found Cornell-Duranleau’s body. He had already been dead for at least 12 hours.
Police said the victim and Lathem had a personal relationship, but they have not elaborated or released a motive.
Authorities’ primary target in the investigation has been Lathem, who had been on Northwestern’s faculty since 2007. The 42-year-old was an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, though university officials say he primarily worked in a research lab. Published in top scientific journals, he was a sought-after speaker on pneumonic and bubonic plagues.
Over the years, he taught medical students or graduate students, though he was not teaching at the time of the crime, said officials with Northwestern, which has campuses in Chicago and suburban Evanston.
Investigators said Lathem sent a video to friends and relatives apologizing for his involvement in the crime, which he called the “biggest mistake of my life.” The video raised concern among investigators that Lathem might kill himself.
Lathem, who was under intensive observation over the weekend in jail, appeared in court Monday, the same day university officials announced his firing. Northwestern officials said Lathem was terminated, effective Friday, “for the act of fleeing from police when there was an arrest warrant out for him.”
Less is known about Warren, who’s British. Warren and Lathem were seen in surveillance video leaving Lathem’s highrise apartment building the day of the stabbing, but it’s unclear what Warren’s relationship was to the other two men.
He is in charge of pensions and payroll at the University of Oxford’s Somerville College. Chicago police have said he’s 56 years old, while California authorities booked him into jail at 49 years old.
Warren arrived in the U.S. three days before Cornell-Duranleau’s death and after being reported missing in Great Britain, Chicago police confirmed. He doesn’t have an initial court appearance scheduled yet and is being held at the county jail in San Francisco.
The day the crime was committed, police say Lathem and Warren drove about 80 miles (128 kilometres) northwest of Chicago to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where one made a $1,000 cash donation to the local library in Cornell-Duranleau’s name. Lake Geneva authorities said the man making the donation didn’t give his name.
The two eluded police for eight days before their separate surrenders Friday in the Bay Area.
Lathem turned himself in at the Oakland federal building roughly the same time Warren turned himself in to police in San Francisco, authorities said. A U.S. Marshals spokesperson said surrender negotiations through an attorney began late Friday afternoon.