Man says Wyndham Lathem pulled knife on him during date

“He asked to pretend to stab me while we had sex,” Jeremy Zaloun testified Thursday in Cook County Judge Charles Burns’ courtroom.

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Arrest photo of Wyndham Lathem in 2017 when he was an associate professor of microbiology at Northwestern University.

Arrest photo of Wyndham Lathem in 2017 when he was an associate professor of microbiology at Northwestern University.

AP Photos

A man who met Wyndham Lathem on the dating app Grindr said the former Northwestern University professor pulled a knife on him during their only encounter a year before Lathem allegedly stabbed his boyfriend to death.

“He asked to pretend to stab me while we had sex,” Jeremy Zaloun testified Thursday in Cook County Judge Charles Burns’ courtroom.

Zaloun said he told Lathem he wanted to leave that evening in 2016, but Lathem “changed” and “told me that I would leave when he said I could.”

“I watched him ... [change into] Freddy Krueger in about 30 seconds,” Zaloun said of the ill-fated date in Lathem’s River North condo.

The body of 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau was discovered on July 27, 2017, in that condo after prosecutors said Lathem allegedly killed him with the help of a British man who traveled to Chicago just days before.

Andrew Warren, 61, pleaded guilty to Cornell-Duranleau’s murder in 2019 and testified against Lathem on Wednesday.

Zaloun on Thursday said he never told police nor his friends about his date with Lathem until Cornell-Duranleau — a man he considered a friend — was killed.

Lathem first offered Zaloun a Coca Cola mixed with the drug GHB while they reclined on Lathem’s bed, Zaloun said.

Zaloun, 46, didn’t drink it.

“I didn’t know how much G was in there,” he told jurors. “Too much G will kill somebody.”

Afterward, Zaloun said he saw Lathem holding a knife.

“I couldn’t tell if it was real or not,” Zaloun said. “But I wasn’t going to take that chance.”

Zaloun, who was carrying a .380 Smith and Wesson handgun, said he proceeded to draw the weapon on Lathem, allowing him to leave the condo.

During opening statements earlier this week, Lathem’s attorneys said Lathem liked to engage in “knife play” during sex.

Zaloun, a retired U.S. Army veteran called one of those attorneys “an idiot” when the lawyer asked Zaloun if he had a FOID card for the gun at the time.

Zaloun initially said he did but then admitted he didn’t when shown state FOID records.

Zaloun, who has previous felony convictions for burglary and identity theft, accused Lathem’s attorneys of breaking into his North Side apartment when they tried to talk to him before the trial.

Jurors Thursday also heard testimony from Andrea Hall, who oversees lab safety at Northwestern, where Lathem, a microbiologist, studied the bubonic plague.

Hall said Lathem was “devastated” in 2017 when he didn’t get a prestigious job in France after failing a background check. Hall was not allowed to say in court if she knew why.

After the job rejection, Lathem began taking more time off from work, but he seemed to recover and resumed his research at the university, where Hall said he was well respected.

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