CHICAGO — A grand jury has indicted an ex-Northwestern University professor and an Oxford University employee on first-degree murder charges in the July stabbing death of a hairstylist in the professor's Chicago apartment.
The Cook County grand jury indictment was announced at a hearing for Wyndham Lathem and Oxford financial official Andrew Warren on Friday afternoon.
The indictment has been expected since the two men were arrested in California last month. Lathem's attorney, Adam Sheppard, said after the hearing that Lathem will plead not guilty at a court hearing scheduled for later this month.
Prosecutors say the 46-year-old Lathem and 56-year-old Warren stabbed Lathem's boyfriend, 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, dozens of times as part of an apparent sexual fantasy that included killing others, then themselves.
Prosecutors say months before the murder, Lathem and Warren communicated in a shadowy corner of the internet, an online chat room where they discussed their sexual fantasies and planned an elaborate sex-murder-suicide pact.
Lathem had been in a relationship with Cornell-Duranleau, a hairdresser from Michigan.
Last month, prosecutors laid out the gruesome details of the case. They say Lathem paid for Warren to fly to Chicago, and the attacked Cornell-Duranleau as he slept in the bedroom of Lathem’s high-rise condo in River North.
During the savage killing, Cornell-Durnaleau was stabbed 70 times, he was nearly decapitated, his pulmonary artery was torn, both lungs were punctured and he suffered other revolting injuries to his colon, spleen and liver.
Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr called the killing heinous and ordered both men to be held in jail without bond. After they fled to the West Coast and evaded a nationwide manhunt for eight days, the judge said they should both be considered flight risks.
At today’s formal indictment, Lathem appeared shell-shocked, with eyes wide open staring blankly ahead.
Lathem’s attorney Adam Sheppard says the former Northwestern Microbiologist is not being held in isolation.
“The staff in the prison is treating him with great respect,” Sheppard. “He’s getting along well with all of the staff. He’s trying to remain hopeful and be involved in as many productive programs as possible.”
Warren has his own lawyer, who declined to speak to reporters today.
Sheppard says says he’ll argue that Lathem is not guilty, as the process trickles toward its conclusion.
The next court appearance is the arraignment, when the charges of first degree murder will be formally announced. That proceeding is set for September 28.