New details are emerging about how authorities found the two men wanted in connection with last week’s brutal stabbing death of a 26-year-old Chicago man.
Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem, 42, surrendered Friday night at the Oakland, California, federal building at around the same time Oxford College employee Andrew Warren, 56, was turning himself in to police in San Francisco, according to Michael McCloud, a fugitive task force commander with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Arrest warrants had been issued for the two men after Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau was found fatally stabbed July 27 inside an apartment in the Grand Plaza Apartments in the 500 block of North State Street, Chicago police said.
Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Frank Conroy said Saturday that fast-paced surrender negotiations through an attorney began late Friday afternoon and that by evening, Lathem arrived by car at the California courthouse.
There were no guns drawn, but Lathem was ordered to carefully step out of the car and taken into custody in a public courtyard area between the federal complex’s two buildings, Conroy said.
Lathem stated that he would not answer any questions on advice of a lawyer, and no questions were asked, Conroy said.
“He wasn’t in good spirits, but physically he didn’t appear to have anything wrong,” Conroy said.
Conroy did not provide details of the negotiations, and he withheld the identity of the lawyer pending a scheduled court appearance Monday morning in Alameda County Superior Court.
Investigators talked with Lathem’s friends during the week, including people from his graduate and undergraduate days, along with his colleagues.
“They knew the seriousness of the charges, the seriousness of the case and how important it was that he be brought into custody, not have to live a life on the run,” Conroy said. “He knew that.”
Conroy said he believed some of the friends were in contact with Lathem while he was a fugitive, and that the attorney probably became involved through a recommendation.
Conroy didn’t have any details on Warren’s surrender because “he wasn’t our primary target, Mr. Lathem was.”
The deputy marshal said Lathem had never been arrested before, and that people in that situation usually panic and make decisions they normally wouldn’t make.
“For him to come in in a safe way, an organized way, was the best outcome that we could have hoped for,” Conroy said.
Lathem and Warren probably took two or three days to travel from Chicago to California, with the manhunt not far behind.
“He (Lathem) probably realized it’s never going to end until he’s in custody, so let me do it on my on terms.” Conroy said.
Their apprehension came eight days after Cornell-Duranleau was found inside the Chicago apartment authorities said he shared with Lathem.
Police said the microbiologist had a personal relationship with Cornell-Duranleau, who moved to Chicago from the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area after receiving his cosmetology license. They are not sure how Cornell-Duranleau or Lathem knew Warren, or if Warren knew them before he arrived in the United States last month.
Authorities had issued arrest warrants for Lathem, an associate professor in microbiology at NU since 2007, and Warren, who had arrived in Chicago three days before Cornell-Duranleau was found dead. The men were seen on surveillance video leaving the building together the day of the stabbing.
Friday night, the men were taken to the San Francisco County Jail. They will appear separately in court before being extradited to Illinois, where they face charges of first-degree murder.
“We hope today’s arrest brings some small level of closure and justice for the victim’s family,” Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Friday.
The hunt for Lathem and Warren had “intensified and narrowed,” with the U.S. Marshals Service and law enforcement agencies across the country joining in the manhunt..
Earlier Friday, police revealed that Lathem had sent an apologetic video message to his friends, family and relatives of Cornell-Duranleau. Guglielmi declined to comment on what Lathem said in the video, though CNN reported Lathem confessed to committing “the biggest mistake of my life” and said the message had been encrypted.
Lathem had been a suspect since police first were tipped to the murder by a cryptic phone call to the front desk of the building on July 27.
Guglielmi said the night Cornell-Duranleau was killed, an attendant working the front desk received the call in which a male caller said, “There may have been a crime committed in Room 1004. You need to check it out.”
The attendant called the room, and when he got no response, called police. Officers entered the apartment with the building manager and discovered a “gruesome scene,” Guglielmi said.
Cornell-Duranleau had been stabbed multiple times, and Guglielmi said the blows landed with such force that the knife believed to be the murder weapon snapped.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed reported that Lathem and Warren drove to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, shortly after the killing and donated $1,000 to the public library in Cornell-Duranleau’s name.
Cornell-Duranleau’s mother Charlotte Cornell told The Associated Press by phone from Michigan, where her son grew up, that the family doesn’t know the suspects.
“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,” Cornell said in a statement given to the AP. Cornell-Duranleau’s funeral is set for next week in his hometown of Lennon, Michigan.
Lathem, an associate professor in microbiology at Northwestern since 2007, has been a sought-after speaker on the pneumonic and bubonic plague and has been published in top scientific journals, said Bill Goldman, a professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Timber Baun-Crooks, the mayor pro-tem of Trenton, Michigan, once gave Cornell-Duranleau a job at a hair salon. She described him as a “great kid.”
“He wanted to be something so bad,” she said. “Though I don’t know what that was or if he ever found his niche in life.”
Sun-Times staff contributed to this report.