18 years after Boystown murder, cops say they know who the killer is — but they need help so he can be charged

Eighteen years after someone stabbed Kevin Clewer to death in his Boystown apartment, Chicago police say they finally know who the killer is, but they need more information so they can convince Cook County prosecutors to approve murder charges.

Chicago police made the stunning revelation in a video posted to social media on Monday.

Clewer’s father found his 34-year-old son stabbed more than 40 times in the back in his bedroom on the 3400 block of North Elaine after he failed to show up for work on March 24, 2004.

Detectives quickly pieced together Clewer’s movements in the hours before his death. He had joined friends for an evening out on the nearby Halsted Street bar strip, making stops at Roscoe’s Tavern, Sidetrack, and the now-shuttered Little Jim’s.

Kevin Clewer, CPD’s 2004 sketch of “Fernando,” and the Boystown bar strip where the two met before Clewer’s death. | CPD; File

Along the way, Clewer met a man who identified himself as “Fernando.” The two were last seen walking toward Clewer’s apartment, which was about two blocks from Little’ Jim’s. Police released an artist sketch of “Fernando” as they tried to drum up leads. But the case stalled.

In CPD’s new video, Homicide Division Lt. William Svilar said detectives last year identified the person who called himself “Fernando.” That’s not his real name, according to Svilar, who said the suspect only used that name when he met Clewer. He is from Puerto Rico and he returned to the island after police released their sketch in 2004. Since then, Svilar said, the suspect has returned to Chicago from time to time.

According to Svilar, the murderer was a regular on the Boystown bar scene at the time and, while he had a history of theft and prostitution, he was not known to be violent.

“People who know this suspect would be shocked to find out he was responsible for stabbing Kevin Clewer 40 times,” Svilar said.

He went on to say the suspect may have bragged about picking up men in bars and robbing or stealing from them when they fell asleep or passed out.

“We require additional evidence and witnesses in order for this homicide to be prosecuted by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office,” Svilar said on the video. “We believe there are people in Chicago and possibly elsewhere who can assist.”

The phone number for CPD’s anonymous homicide tip line is 833-408-0069.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com