Nationwide manhunt on for two, including Northwestern professor, for murder of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau

Chicago Sun-Times

Wyndham Lathem (left) and Andrew Warren | Chicago Police

Wyndham Lathem (left) and Andrew Warren | Chicago Police

Just days after a 26-year-old Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau was found stabbed to death inside Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem’s luxe River North apartment, a nationwide manhunt for the microbiologist has begun.

A Cook County judge on Monday issued arrest warrants for Lathem, 42; and Andrew Warren, 56, a payroll assistant at Oxford University’s Somerville College in England, for the murder of Cornell-Duranleau on July 27.

On Wednesday, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives believe the pair have fled Illinois, but their passports have been flagged by the State Department, and the U.S. Marshal Service has joined the search.

“The search for them will only intensify,” Guglielmi said. “They should do the right thing and turn themselves in to any police station. It’s only a matter of time.”

Police had been looking for Lathem soon after Cornell-Duranleau was found dead inside the professor’s flat in the Grand Plaza Apartments at 540 N. State around 8:30 p.m., when police responded to a request for a wellness check. Lathem is listed as the registered owner of the apartment, which sits just over a mile from his office in Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Guglielmi said.

Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau | Facebook

Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau | Facebook

Lathem and Cornell-Duranleau appear to have lived together at the River North apartment, Guglielmi said. The connection to Warren, an employee of a college within the Oxford University system, is not known.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office found that Cornell-Duranleau died of multiple stab wounds and ruled the death a homicide.

A notice emailed last week to Grand Plaza residents by building managers after Cornell-Duranleau’s body was discovered said that Chicago Police were investigating “a variety of motives, including a possible domestic incident.”

The murder is the first in the River North police beat that covers the 500 block of North State since at least 2001, according to the Chicago Police crime database.

Lathem is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and primarily works as a researcher and seldom interacted with students. Lathem was placed on administrative leave and is barred from campus, Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage said.

Cornell-Duranleau had graduated from cosmetology school in Michigan, and had moved to Chicago fairly recently. His address was a small, worn-looking apartment building in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood, and neighbors said he was quiet and kept to himself.

“I don’t know much about him, but what I’ve heard about what happened, shouldn’t happen to anybody,” said a neighbor who had lived in the building for about a year. “He deserves justice. I’m glad they think they know who did it.”

In an obituary posted on her Facebook page, his mother, Mischelle Duranleau, said he was born in the small town of Lennon, Michigan, and loved animals, music, cars and video games. His biological mother died when he was young, and he was adopted by Duranleau and raised among a large family of adopted siblings.

“His enthusiasm for life was infectious. Trenton was a caregiver and loved to help others,” Duranleau wrote.

His funeral will be held on Aug. 12 in Lennon. A brief death notice in the local newspaper noted that Cornell-Duranleau “died suddenly” on July 27.

Lathem had worked at Northwestern since 2007.

“There is no indication of any risk to the Northwestern community from this individual at this time,” Cubbage said in an emailed statement.

By Wednesday morning, the school had removed his profile page and numerous press releases about his research.

The website for Oxford’s Somerville College listed Warren as a “senior treasury assistant.” A college spokesman said the school was not aware of the investigation, but that officials there would “liaise” with investigators.

In a post on Facebook, the Cornell-Duranleau family wrote: “Our Family is deeply saddened by the death of our son. It is our hope that the person or persons responsible for his death are brought to justice. We are asking that you allow our family to process and grieve this tragedy PRIVATELY. We are asking all media outlets to not contact our family, friends or associates. When we have had sufficient time to morn our child’s passing, we will release a more in depth statement if we believe it is appropriate to do so.”

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