Man says Wyndham Lathem pulled a knife at him during the date
A man who met Wyndham Lathem on the dating app Grindr said the former Northwestern University professor pulled a knife at him during their only meeting a year before Lathem stabbed his boyfriend to death.
“He asked to pretend to stab me while we were having sex,” Jeremy Zoloun said Thursday in the courtroom of Cook County Judge Charles Burns.
Zaloun said he told Lathem he wanted to leave that evening in 2016, but Lathem “changed” and “told me I would leave when he told me I could”.
“I’ve watched it… [change into] Freddy Krueger in about 30 seconds, ”Zaloun said of the unfortunate date at the Lathem’s River North condo.
The body of 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau was discovered on July 27, 2017 in this apartment after prosecutors said Lathem allegedly killed him with the help of a Briton who had traveled to Chicago for a few days previously.
Andrew Warren, 61, pleaded guilty to the Cornell-Duranleau murder in 2019 and testified against Lathem on Wednesday.
Zaloun said Thursday he never told police or 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 GHB drugs while they were lying on Lathem’s bed, Zaloun said.
Zaloun, 46, has not drunk it.
“I didn’t know how much G was in there,” he told jurors. “Too much G will kill someone.”
Zaloun later testified that 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 this chance.”
Zaloun, who carried a .380 Smith and Wesson handgun, said he started firing the gun at Lathem, allowing him to leave the apartment.
In opening statements earlier this week, Lathem’s attorneys said Lathem liked to engage in “knife games” during sex.
Zaloun, a retired U.S. Army veteran, called one of those lawyers a “dumb” when he asked Zaloun if he had a FOID card for the weapon at the time.
Zaloun initially said he did, but then admitted he didn’t when shown the FOID tapes.
Zaloun, who has previously been convicted of burglary and identity theft, accused Lathem’s lawyers of breaking into his North Side apartment when they tried to speak to him ahead of the trial.
Jurors also heard testimony Thursday from Andrea Hall, who oversees laboratory security at Northwestern, where Lathem, a microbiologist, studied bubonic plague.
Hall said Lathem was “devastated” in 2017 when he failed to secure a prestigious job in France after failing a background check. Hall was not allowed to tell the court if she knew why.
After the job was rejected, Lathem began to take more time off, but appeared to recover and resumed his research at the university, where Hall said he was highly respected.