Watch CBS News

Former Northwestern professor Wyndham Lathem sentenced to 53 years in prison for "execution" of boyfriend during sexual fantasy

Chicago stabbing arrest
Northwestern professor, Oxford employee arrested in Chicago stabbing 02:31

A judge sentenced a former Northwestern University professor to 53 years in prison Tuesday for the 2017 stabbing death of his boyfriend as part of a sexual fantasy hatched in an online chatroom. Cook County Judge Charles Burns called the killing of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau "cold-blooded" and an "execution" as he sentenced Wyndham Lathem, 47, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in October.

Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed more than 70 times on July 27, 2017, by Lathem and Andrew Warren, a British man who Lathem had paid to come to Chicago to commit the murder together, prosecutors said.

Northwestern fired Lathem, a renowned microbiologist, after he fled the Chicago area following the killing.

Lathem testified during his trial that Warren alone stabbed Cornell-Duranleau during what started as a methamphetamine-fueled sexual encounter involving the three men. Lathem had communicated for months before with Warren about "carrying out their sexual fantasies of killing others and then themselves," prosecutors previously said.

Andrew Warren, left, and Wyndham Lathem, right, arrive in Chicago to face charges in the death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau on August 19, 2017. Jim Young, Pool/AP

Warren in 2019 pleaded guilty to murder under a plea agreement that called for him to testify against Lathem in exchange for receiving a 45-year prison sentence.

Warren, who was an Oxford University financial officer at the time of the slaying, testified that he flew from England to Chicago to meet Lathem and take part in a pact to kill each other before agreeing to kill Cornell-Duranleau at Lathem's suggestion.

He testified that he did, in fact, stab Cornell-Duranleau, but only after Lathem had already begun stabbing him.

CBS Chicago reports that Lathem initially testified that Warren committed the crime while he cowered in a nearby bathroom. A day after he pinned the blame on Warren, Lathem under questioning from the prosecutor acknowledged that not only did he not try to stop Warren from killing his boyfriend, but he took a shower before the two fled together.

Lathem's initial testimony at trial also contradicted what he said on a video that was linked to an email he sent his parents days after the slaying, CBS Chicago reported.

"He trusted me completely and felt safe with me, and I betrayed that," Lathem said on the video that the parents turned over to the U.S. Marshal's Service and played for the jury at his trial twice. "I took that all away when I killed him."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.