Former Northwestern professor Wyndham Lathem sentenced to 53 years for stabbing boyfriend to death

A former Northwestern University professor who was found guilty of first-degree murder charges in October has been sentenced to 53 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Cook County Judge Charles Burns called the killing of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau "cold-blooded," "calculated" and an "execution." 

Wyndham Lathem, 47, was charged in the July 2017 killing of Cornell-Duranleau, a 26-year-old hair stylist from Michigan.

A renowned microbiologist who studied bubonic plague, Lathem had "treated his lab animals better than he treated" Cornell, Burns said.

"To butcher an individual, Trenton Cornell, the way that he died, in order to fulfill a bizarre, antisocial, perverted fantasy, based on whatever sense of reality, is totally beyond my understanding," the judge added.

A co-defendant, Andrew Warren, pleaded guilty to the crime.

Prosecutors say Lathem and Warren spent months planning to commit multiple murders, then to kill each other. 

On July 27, 2017, the pair teamed up to murder Cornell-Duranleau inside Lathem’s River North apartment, stabbing him a total of 70 times, with such force one of the knives broke.

Shortly thereafter, an arrest warrant was issued for Lathem and Warren, who ultimately surrendered to authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area, according Chicago Police's Brendan Deenihan.


The discovery of Cornell-Duranleau’s body was prompted by an anonymous phone call. Deenihan said Lathem made that call while in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Deenihan said Lathem picked up Warren, whom he met through the internet, from O’Hare Airport several days before the murder. 

Warren, a British national who was in the United States for the first time, was with Lathem when the call from Wisconsin was made.

The two fled Chicago after Cornell-Duranleau was killed and drove a rental car to the Lake Geneva library where they made a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau’s name before fleeing to California, where Lathem has close friends and family.

MORE: Ex-Northwestern professor to stand trial in fatal stabbing stemming from 'sexual fantasy'

During nine days of testimony, prosecutors described Lathem as a coldblooded killer who stabbed defenseless Cornell-Duranleau. 

Defense attorneys argued their client was a bystander framed by the actual killer, Warren.

At sentencing, Lathem didn’t admit his role in Cornell’s murder, but said he wanted to tell Cornell’s parents he was sorry for what happened to their son.

"I want Trent’s family to know that I have been grief stricken with remorse since the moment everything happened." Lathem said in a quiet voice, at times sobbing, when he spoke during the hearing Tuesday.

"And the last four and a half years have not made it any easier," he added. "Every day I think of Trent."

Cornell’s mothers, Charlotte Cornell and Mischelle Duranleau, said they were grateful "justice was served."

The Associated Press and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.