Jailed Plague Expert Wants to Help Fight Pandemic

Judge denies murder suspect's bail request
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2020 4:16 PM CDT
Jailed Plague Expert Wants to Help Fight Pandemic
In this Aug. 19, 2017photo, Wyndham Lathem arrives at a police station as he is escorted by Chicago police.   (AP Photo/Jim Young, Pool, File)

An infectious disease expert wants to be let out of a Chicago jail to help fight the coronavirus pandemic—though fellow experts are unlikely to relish the prospect of working alongside a man accused of stabbing his boyfriend until the knife broke. Wyndham Lathem, a former associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University, argued in a bail motion last week that his experience as a leading bubonic plague researcher could help save lives, Fox reports. Lathem, 45, has been held without bail at the Cook County Jail since Aug. 2017, when he was charged with murdering 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. Prosecutors said Lathem, who was captured after an 8-day manhunt, carried out a murder fantasy with the help of an Oxford University employee he had met online.

"With his background and experience, Dr. Lathem is well-suited to advise and participate in studies that are aimed at understanding SARS-CoV-2," University of North Carolina professor William Goldman wrote in the bail motion. "It would make sense to take advantage of as many experts as possible during this worldwide crisis that is rapidly expanding in scope." Judge Charles Burns denied the motion to release Lathem on $1 million bail, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lathem's attorney, Adam Sheppard, says his client has reported mild COVID-19 symptoms and he is "deeply concerned" about his health. More than 300 inmates at the facility have tested positive for the coronavirus. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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