It’s been over 15 years since 31-year-old Kevin Clewer was found dead in his Lakeview apartment, stabbed 42 times by an unknown killer. The police haven’t had a promising lead since the case first broke in 2004, when a person of interest was identified simply as “Fernando.” But since then, the case has gone cold.
Hoping to get a break in the case, Clewer’s family spent part of Saturday handing out fliers with members of the Cook County Crime Stoppers.
“There are murder cases that haven’t been solved, and this is one of those that bothers me,” Crime Stoppers Chairman George McDade said. “We know there’s information out there, and we can’t just let it go. It doesn’t just go away.”
Kevin Clewer was a “fun guy who enjoyed life and liked to be around people … cook and entertain folks,” someone who hoped to have children, his older brother Ron Clewer said.
An openly gay man, Kevin Clewer had moved to Boystown a few years earlier because he wanted to live somewhere where he could be comfortable being himself, his brother said. He was out with friends at neighborhood bars the night of March 23, 2004, when he met the man known only as “Fernando.” A friend of Kevin Clewer’s later said he saw the two leaving the bar together, making Fernando possibly the last person to see Kevin Clewer alive.
The next day, Kevin Clewer’s parents were called after their son failed to pick up clients from the airport, behavior that was unlike him, his father said then. He made his way to his son’s apartment in the 3400 block of North Elaine Place, where he found him dead.
Police called it a crime of passion and commissioned a sketch to accompany Fernando’s description: “Male, White-Hispanic, 5’7”, slim/athletic build, speaks Spanish.” Fernando was never found, and the case went cold.
Kevin Clewer’s parents both died about a year after his death, but his brother and other family members continued to search for answers. They were approached by McDade, who offered to print fliers asking for the public’s assistance, and they canvassed area pedestrians about 25 times in the decade after Kevin Clewer’s death. Their action on Saturday was the first time in about five years that they had distributed fliers, Ron Clewer said.
“I hope the effort is going to produce results and that someone will come forward with information,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s good to be in this neighborhood and remember who he was and the way he lived his life, enjoying life. But it’s also difficult. It was made a lot easier by how nice people were, most people were willing to look at the flier and listen.”
McDade said they handed out about 900 fliers, and Ron Clewer said that two people had information that could be extremely helpful.
“I’ve always been optimistic. After the first few months of the police investigation, they said it was going to take someone willing to come forward to share what they know,” Ron Clewer said. “I tend to believe the best in people, that even 15 years later whoever did it or someone who knows who may have done it, I’m hopeful they’ll do the right thing.”
He launched a website to collect information about this brother’s murder, and the Cook County Crime Stoppers have offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s arrest.