An Oxford University employee suspected in a murder has been arrested alongside his alleged accomplice, a US professor, Chicago police have said.

Andrew Warren, a senior treasury assistant at Somerville College, and Professor Wyndham Lathem of Northwestern University were detained separately in California, more than 3,200km (2,000 miles) from the crime scene, a spokesman said on Friday.

Warren was in San Francisco while Lathem was in Oakland, US Marshals inspector Ed Farrel told the Chicago Tribune. It was not immediately clear how Lathem and Warren had travelled to California.

The men are suspects in the fatal stabbing of a 26-year-old man, Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, in Lathem’s Chicago apartment on 27 July.

Chicago police said in a statement: “We hope today’s arrest brings some comfort for the victim’s family. We are also thankful that this did not end in further tragedy.”

The men will appear in court in Oakland before being returned to Chicago for questioning.

Officers said the victim was found with multiple stab wounds in the 10th-floor apartment near the city centre at about 8.30pm on 27 July. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Cornell-Duranleau is a hairstylist originally from Corunna, Michigan, but was living in Chicago at the time of his death.

Warren had arrived in the US three days before the death of Cornell-Duranleau and was seen in surveillance video leaving the building with Lathem on the day of the stabbing.

Police had released few details of the investigation. However, they said on Friday that on the day of the killing – but before the body was discovered – Lathem and Warren drove about 128km (80 miles) north-west to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where one of them made a $1,000 cash donation to the public library there in Cornell-Duranleau’s name. Lake Geneva police said the man making the donation did not give his name. “I’ve never seen where suspects in a homicide would make a donation in the victim’s name,” said Lieutenant Edward Gritzner.

Police said Lathem had a personal relationship with Cornell-Duranleau, who moved to Chicago from the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area after receiving his cosmetology licence. They said they were still trying to determine how Cornell-Duranleau or Lathem knew Warren, or if Warren knew them before he arrived in the US.

Police said that on the night of the death the front desk of the building where Lathem lives in Chicago’s River North neighborhood received an anonymous call that a crime had been committed in Lathem’s 10th-floor apartment. When officers opened the door they found Cornell-Duranleau’s body. He had been stabbed several times in an attack so forceful that police said the knife broke.

Warren had earlier been urged by Somerville College to hand himself in as police said they were close to locating him and Lathem, a microbiology professor at the university in Illinois.

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