Motive Revealed in July Stabbing Death of Man by His Professor Boyfriend
UPDATE 9/16/17: Wyndham Lathem and Andrew Warren have been indicted on six counts of first-degree murder.
On July 27th, hairstylist Trenton Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed to death. Wyndham Lathem and Andrew Warren turned themselves in after an eight-day manhunt. Lathem, 42, was a microbiology professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Warren, 56, worked at Oxford University in the United Kingdom as a payroll administrator.
Lathem recorded a video for family and friends admitting to the murder, calling it “the biggest mistake of my life,” according to Chicago police. The police have not released the video. Warren admitted to the crime to police.
At the time of the murder, it was believed to be a domestic dispute. However, Cook County prosecutors are now saying the stabbing was part of a sexual fantasy shared by the two men. The fantasy was originally talked about in an online chat room.
Prosecutors say the original fantasy involved Lathem and Warren killing someone — or perhaps multiple people — and then killing themselves. The men committed the first part of the plan, but it has yet to be revealed why they didn’t commit suicide.
The Prosecution’s Timeline of Events
According to prosecutors, the timeline was as follows. After making plans online, Lathem paid for Warren’s flight to the United States. Lathem picked Warren up at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago a few days before. On July 26th, Lathem booked a room for Warren near Lathem’s condo.
Lathem shared the condo with Cornell-Duranleau, who was his boyfriend. At 4:30 a.m. on the day of the killing, Lethem let Warren into the condo. The two were careful not to wake the victim. Warren watched from the doorway as Lathem quietly walked to Cornell-Duranleau’s sleeping body. He then started stabbing Cornell-Duranleau with a 6-inch drywall saw knife.
Cornell-Duranleau awoke and started fighting back and screaming. Lathem yelled at Warren to help subdue the victim. Warren then covered Cornell-Duranleau’s mouth and hit him in the head with a heavy lamp. He then left the room and came back with two kitchen knives. Warren joined Lathem in stabbing the victim. Cornell-Duranleau bit Warren’s hand in the struggle.
Natosha Toller, the prosecutor in the case and an assistant Cook County attorney, told the court Cornell-Duranleau’s last words were “Wyndham, what are you doing?”
Lathem had originally told Warren to take cell-phone video of the murder, but the crime was not recorded.
After the Murder
After the murder, Lathem left a cash donation of $5,610 at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago under Cornell-Duranleau’s name. The men then drove to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Lathem went to the town’s public library and wrote a $1,000 check as a donation, also in Cornell-Duranleau’s name. From the library, Lathem called the front desk of his building to leave an anonymous tip that a crime had been committed in his condo.
It was while the two men were travelling that Lathem recorded his video for friends and family.
Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed 70 times. Of those, 21 times were in the chest and abdomen and 26 times in the back. He also had multiple cuts on his hands. His lungs were punctured and his colon, spleen and liver all had wounds.
Wyndham Lathem and Andrew Warren Are Held Without Bail
Though Lathem admitted to the crime, his defense attorney, Barry Sheppard, questions the claims put forward by the prosecution. Sheppard says the prosecution’s narrative is based on Warren’s statements to police. The attorney also says his team will be conducting their own investigation.
Sheppard reports that Lathem is “trying to remain hopeful.” Sheppard also gave Judge Adam D. Bourgeois Jr. a number of letters from Lathem’s friends and colleagues. The letters spoke to Lathem’s character and academic accomplishments as an expert in the Black Plague.
The two men are being held without bail in Cook County Jail. Lathem and Warren are being kept separate at all times. Warren is represented by Assistant Public Defender Kate Moriarty. Moriarty requested Warren be evaluated at the jail’s hospital, though she did not specify why. She also said Warren wanted to be held in protective custody.
Photo by sanchalrat via iStock