Some readers may be aware of the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case where two young undergraduates at the University of Chicago who came from wealthy families kidnapped and murdered a 14-year old boy in 1924 just for the hell of it. They felt that with their superior intellect, they could get away with carrying out the perfect murder. They were found and convicted.
I was reminded of that case when I read of a professor of microbiology at Northwestern University and an employee of Oxford University who met in a chat room and decided, again seemingly just for the hell of it, to murder a hairstylist who was the lover of the professor.
The disturbing details about the 27 July killing revealed how Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, the boyfriend of Northwestern University microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem, was stabbed 70 times at Lathem’s Chicago condo and with such brutality that he was nearly decapitated. His throat was slit and pulmonary artery torn, the bond hearing in Chicago on Sunday was told.
Lathem, 46, had communicated for months before with Andrew Warren, 56, a senior treasury assistant at Somerville College, about “carrying out their sexual fantasies of killing others and then themselves”, Natosha Toller, an assistant state’s attorney told the court.
In its details, there is little resemblance between this case and the Leopold and Loeb case. In the old case, they thought they would get away with it while in this case the murderers made no attempt to avoid implicating themselves since they anticipated committing suicide, though for reasons unknown they did not carry out that part of the plan. What is similar is the sheer senselessness of it all, the desire to kill another human being for no reason other than to get some perverse gratification.
The depths of pathologies that human beings can have seem to have no limits.