(CBS) – Northwestern University has formally fired the associate professor now in custody for a fatal stabbing in a River North high rise.
Wyndham Lathem on Monday made his first court appearance in California, where the 42-year-old reportedly turned himself into police last week following a nationwide manhunt. He waived extradition and will face first-degree murder charges back in Chicago.
Lathem and a British man were wanted in connection with the murder of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, 26, whose body was found July 27 in Lathem’s State Street residence.
The British man, 56-year-old Andrew Warren, is also in custody in the Bay Area of California. It’s not clear why the Oxford University system employee was in Chicago at the time of the murder.
“Northwestern University has terminated the employment of Wyndham Lathem, an associate professor of microbiology-immunology, effective Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. Lathem was terminated for the act of fleeing from police when there was an arrest warrant out for him,” a Northwestern spokesperson said in a statement issued Monday.
Lathem had been a faculty member since 2007. He’s also banned from campus, NU officials said.
“What he is accused of is totally contrary to the way he has lived his entire life,” Lathem defense attorney Kenneth H. Wine said Monday before his client’s extradition hearing in Alameda County (Calif.).
Wine says dozens of Lathem’s friends and colleagues have written letters on his behalf.
“They all describe him as a kind, intelligent and gentle soul, and a loyal and trusted friend,” the attorney said.
Likewise, Lathem’s attorneys in Chicago are also urging people to reserve judgement.
“There are a wide variety of scenarios that could be consistent with innocence,” Adam Sheppard said by phone.
Lathem’s attorney says his client will plead innocent to the charges.
The Chicago murder case attracted wide attention because of some bizarre developments that occurred after the suspects fled the city.
Lathem and Warren allegedly travelled to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, after the murder and made a $1,000 donation to the Lake Geneva Public Library in the victim’s name, Chicago police said. Lathem also reportedly sent an apologetic video to friends and family members.
Warren was expected to appear at an extradition hearing Friday.