Prosecutors say Cornell-Duranleau murder an alleged sex-fantasy

Ryan Wangman, Summer Managing Editor

CHICAGO — Former Northwestern professor Wyndham Lathem allegedly confessed that the stabbing death of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau was a part of a premeditated murder-sex fantasy he planned with University of Oxford employee Andrew Warren, according to DNA Info.

Prosecutors said during a bond court hearing that Warren and Lathem allegedly discussed the murder in an online chatroom before it transpired, which involved killing someone and then killing themselves to realize a sexual fantasy they both shared, DNA Info reported. The two reportedly appeared in bond court on Sunday afternoon and were ordered held without bond.

Prosecutors said Lathem invited Cornell-Duranleau over to his apartment, waited until he fell asleep, and then contacted Warren, DNA Info reported. Cornell-Duranleau woke up and began resisting when the attack began but was subdued when hit with a metal lamp, then stabbed 70 times, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Lathem and Warren had planned to kill more people of Lathem’s choosing before ultimately killing each other, ABC Chicago reporter Michelle Gallardo tweeted, but that part of their plan did not transpire.

Detective Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan had said at a Chicago Police Department press conference earlier Sunday morning that during bond court Sunday afternoon, the State’s attorney would use a bond proffer to explain Warren’s connection to the murder and to outline the motive behind the murder.

“It was not domestic in nature, like … boyfriend (and) boyfriend, or a love triangle. That was not the motive,” Deenihan said. “It was a little bit more dark and disturbing as far as I’m concerned.”

Deenihan laid out the timeline for the investigation, and said the details of the situation were “extremely complex” and “extremely time-consuming.” He said the investigation found that Warren and Lathem had met through the internet, and that Lathem had picked Warren up from O’Hare International Airport several days before the murder.

The investigation into the murder began July 27 after the doorman of Lathem’s North State Street apartment building received an anonymous call instructing him to check out Lathem’s apartment because “a crime may have been committed there,” Deenihan said. The doorman and police officers entered the apartment and found Cornell-Duranleau’s body with numerous stab wounds.

Detectives believe Lathem himself made that anonymous phone call, and further investigation found that witnesses in the apartment building had heard what sounded like a fight and screaming around 5 a.m. on July 27, Deenihan said. After additional information revealed the pair had likely fled Chicago, CPD contacted the U.S. Marshals to seek their assistance.

U.S. Marshal Donal McCarthy said law enforcement officials were able to track Lathem and Warren from various locations up until the final California destination. He said officials learned the pair had friends and family in California, and negotiated a deal for the duo to turn themselves in through those friends and an attorney.

Lathem arrived back in Chicago late Friday night, according to ABC Chicago.

CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson thanked the law enforcement officers and “law-abiding citizens” who helped to find Lathem and Warren.

”I can only describe the course of events that lead up to Mr. (Cornell-Duranleau)’s murder as unquestionably tragic,” Johnson said. “Following their cowardly act, the two fled the city in an attempt to escape apprehension, but we were fortunate enough to have the assistance of the U.S. Marshals who helped us track down and arrest (them).”

Editor’s note: This story was updated repeatedly throughout Sunday afternoon with additional details.

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