A Northwestern University professor who left Chicago after the victim of a brutal stabbing was found in his condo agreed to be extradited back to Illinois to face murder charges, his attorney said Monday.
Microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem, who surrendered to California authorities Friday with another man sought in the killing, won’t contest being brought back to Illinois to face first-degree murder charges in the death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, 26, whose body was found inside Lathem’s condo on July 27.
Cornell-Duranleau died from multiple stab wounds, according to the medical examiner, and Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the killer used enough force to snap the knife believed to be the murder weapon.
“What he is accused of is totally contrary to the way he has lived his entire life,” Lathem’s defense attorney, Kenneth Wine, said in a statement Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Since the beginning of this case, the defense has received dozens of calls and letters in support of Dr. Lathem, from friends and colleagues who have known him for decades,” Wine said. “They all describe him in the same way — a kind, intelligent and gentle soul, and a loyal and trusted friend.”
Cornell-Duranleau’s body was discovered after the front desk clerk at Lathem’s Chicago condo building received a disturbing anonymous phone call. “There may have been a crime committed in Room 1004,” the caller reported. “You need to check it out.”
Investigators said surveillance video shows Lathem and Andrew Warren, 56, a British national who works for Oxford College, leaving the apartment building together the night of the slaying. Warren also faces first-degree murder charges in the case.
Warren reportedly is a senior treasury assistant at Somerville College, part of the Oxford University network. Police said Warren left his Oxfordshire home without telling anyone, and arrived in the United States three days before Cornell-Duranleau’s slaying.
Authorities have confirmed Lathem and Cornell-Duranleau had a personal relationship, but won’t elaborate. Warren’s links to the two men are unclear.
Cornell-Duranleau was born in Michigan and had been working as a cosmetologist since 2011, according to his obituary, .
“Throughout his life he loved music and animals,” the obituary reads. “His enthusiasm for life was infectious. Trenton was a caregiver and loved to help others. His youthful free-spirit fueled his love of cars, video games and cartoons.”
Lathem, an associate professor in microbiology at Northwestern since 2007, often lectured on pneumonic and bubonic plagues.
Lathem and Warren were fugitives for more than a week before separately turning themselves in to California authorities on Friday evening. Police said they discovered the two men stopped at a Wisconsin public library sometime last week and made a $1,000 cash donation in Cornell-Duranleau’s name.
“Both individuals will be held accountable for their actions,” Chicago police said in a statement early Saturday.
Lathem, before surrendering, reportedly sent an apologetic video to friends, family and relatives of Cornell-Duranleau. CBS News reported Lathem confessed in the video to committing “the biggest mistake of my life.”
Lathem is being held without bond at Alameda County jail in California. Warren, who is also being held without bond, is incarcerated at the San Francisco County Jail.
It’s unclear when the men will be returned to Chicago.