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NU Professor Charged In Murder-Sex-Suicide Fantasy Case 'Hopeful': Attorney

By  Erica Demarest and Kelly Bauer | August 21, 2017 3:35pm 

 Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Andrew Warren, 56, are charged with first-degree murder.
Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Andrew Warren, 56, are charged with first-degree murder.
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Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — An attorney for the Northwestern University professor accused of killing his boyfriend in a murder-sex-suicide fantasy told reporters Monday he plans to conduct his own investigation into the high-profile case.

"We will have facts which differ from those proffered at the bond hearing," defense attorney Adam Sheppard said following a routine status hearing for his client, 43-year-old Wyndham Lathem.

"The state's [case] appears to be in large part based on the statement of Andrew Warren, a self-confessed murder," Sheppard said, referencing Lathem's co-defendant, a British financial officer accused of traveling to the U.S. to help Warren kill his boyfriend in a scheme concocted online.

"We are conducting our own investigation; it's underway," Shepard said before declining to provide additional details.

RELATED: Professor's Murder-Sex-Suicide Plot Hatched In Chatroom, Prosecutors Say

Lathem, 43, has been in Cook County Jail, 2700 S. California Ave., since Sunday, when he and Warren, 56, were denied bail during a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave.

Lathem "is trying to remain hopeful" while behind bars, Sheppard said. "He's a brilliant person, and he's trying to digest all that's happened over the course of the last couple of days. He's certainly capable of doing so, and we hope he's treated with the respect and open-mindedness that he deserves."

In court Monday, Assistant Public Defender Kate Moriarty requested a medical evaluation for Warren and asked her client to be placed into protective custody while in jail.

Details of the grisly murder were revealed Sunday in court, where prosecutors said Lathem and Warren stabbed Lathem's boyfriend — hairstylist Trenton Cornell-Duranleau — dozens of times in a premeditated murder-sex-suicide fantasy they plotted for several months in an online chatroom.

The pair are accused of stabbing Cornell-Duranleau, 26, at least 70 times while he slept.

"Wyndham, what are you doing?" Cornell-Duranleau asked after awaking during the attack, prosecutors said.

Authorities also revealed there almost was another victim, but that person may not have showed up.

Lathem was fired from Northwestern earlier this month "for the act of fleeing from police when there was an arrest warrant out for him." Warren is currently suspended from his employ at Somerville College in Oxford, England.

For months before the July 27 slaying, Lathem and Warren allegedly discussed killing a person before killing themselves to complete a sexual fantasy they'd shared, Assistant State's Attorney Natosha Toller revealed Sunday. The men decided they would kill someone and, afterward, Lathem would stab Warren to death while Warren shot Lathem, Toller said.

Lathem paid for Warren to fly to Chicago and put Warren up in a hotel, according to Toller. Lathem eventually decided the men would kill his boyfriend, prosecutors said, and Warren agreed.

Lathem "lured" Cornell-Duranleau to his River North apartment, where video showed them going into the building together, Toller said. After Cornell-Duranleau went to sleep, Lathem sent a text message to Warren telling him it was time to kill Cornell-Duranleau and that Warren should come over, according to Toller.

Warren went to the apartment and, after Lathem ensured Cornell-Duranleau was sleeping, Lathem joined Warren in a bathroom and they removed a new knife from its packaging, Toller said. Lathem asked Warren to record the slaying on a cellphone.

Lathem then returned to the bedroom and stabbed Cornell-Duranleau "over and over," Toller said.

Cornell-Duranleau woke up, Toller said, and started screaming and fighting back. Lathem asked Warren for help and Warren put his hand over Cornell-Duranleau's mouth. The man bit Warren, Toller said.

Warren then hit Cornell-Duranleau with a "heavy metal lamp," prosecutors said, while Lathem continued to stab the younger man. Warren is accused of retrieving two knives from the kitchen and bringing them into the bedroom.

Lathem and Warren used the knives to stab Cornell-Duranleau, Toller said; Warren used so much force that he broke the blade of one knife.

"Wyndham, what are you doing?" Cornell-Duranleau asked — his last words, Toller said.

As Cornell-Duranleau bled to death, Lathem and Warren showered in the bathroom and cleaned themselves, Toller said. They had both cut themselves during the attack.

The two tried to clean the apartment before setting off on a lengthy trip that led to a national manhunt, authorities said. According to Toller, the men used a rented car to travel — making a $5,610 donation in Cornell-Duranleau's name to a health center a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau's name to the Geneva public library.

RELATED: Northwestern Professor Sent Apology Video To Friends After Murder

At the library on July 27, Lathem called his doorman anonymously to report a crime in his 10th floor apartment at the Grand Plaza, 540 N. State St. Police found Cornell-Duranleau about 8:30 p.m. dead, laying in his underwear on the floor. Officers also found several knives and a broken lamp.

Cornell-Duranleau had been stabbed 70 times, was nearly decapitated and had several wounds that would have been mortal by themselves. He had "numerous" defensive wounds, Toller said.

Lathem sent a video message to his parents and friends after Cornell-Duranleau's death, Toller said, telling them he was not the person they thought he was and that he had killed Cornell-Duranleau. The death wasn't an accident, Toller said, according to prosecutors, and he told his family Cornell-Duranleau had trusted him and felt safe with him and he "betrayed" that.

Cornell-Duranleau had "no idea" what was coming as he slept, Warren told police, according to prosecutors.

Lathem and Warren eventually traveled to California, where they learned there was a national search for them, prosecutors said. The duo contacted an attorney and negotiated with police to turn themselves in, which they did in separate places.

Lathem and Warren were soon extradited to Chicago and charged with first-degree murder.

RELATED: National Manhunt On For Northwestern Professor Wanted In High-Rise Murder

Cornell-Duranleau, a native of Corunna, Mich., worked as a hairstylist after earning his cosmetology license in Holland, Mich., according to an obituary posted by his family.

"Throughout his life, he loved music and animals," the obituary read. "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."