Professor charged in hairstylist murder

Sam Blewett
AAP
Microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem is accused over the death of a young hairdresser in Chicago.

The fatal stabbing of a hairstylist in Chicago was part of a sexual fantasy hatched in an online chatroom between a US University professor and an Oxford University employee, prosecutors say.

An Illinois prosecutor has shared new details about the July 27 slaying, describing to the court how Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, the 26-year-old boyfriend of since-fired microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem, was stabbed 70 times at Lathem's Chicago condo and with such brutality that he was nearly decapitated.

Lathem, 46, had communicated for months before with Andrew Warren, 56, about "carrying out their sexual fantasies of killing others and then themselves," Natosha Toller, an assistant Cook County state's Attorney, told the court.

Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr deemed both men potentially dangerous and flight risks, ordering them to remain in jail pending trial on first-degree murder charges.

Lathem paid for Warren's ticket to travel to the United States and he picked Warren up at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport a few days before the killing, the prosecutor said. On July 26, one day before the killing, Lathem booked a room for Warren near the condo, Toller said.

Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native, had been asleep in Lathem's high-rise Chicago condo when Lathem let Warren into the 10th-floor unit on July 27. As Warren stood in a doorway, Lathem crept up to Cornell-Duranleau and began plunging a 6-inch drywall saw knife into his chest and neck, Toller said.

After showering, Lathem and Warren left the apartment an hour after the stabbing began, the prosecutor said. They surrendered to California authorities on August 4 after an eight-day manhunt .

Lathem's lawyer, Barry Sheppard, said in a brief statement to reporters after the hearing that people shouldn't "engage in a rush to judgment."

He said his client had led "a life of unblemished ... citizenship," which included academic work on the bubonic-plague virus.