19 years after unsolved Boystown murder, victim’s brother says there’s progress — and a second suspect

CHICAGO — More than 19 years after Kevin Clewer was stabbed to death in his Boystown apartment, there are new details and fresh indications that Chicago police know who they are looking for. And, in a stunning revelation, Clewer’s brother told a Rockford TV station yesterday that investigators now believe two men—not one—are responsible for Kevin’s death.

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-razed Little Jim’s on the northeast corner of Halsted and Cornelia.

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, 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, then went cold.

Then COVID arrived, and, in June 2020, Clewer’s older brother, Ron, kicked up his efforts to keep a spotlight on Kevin’s case. He started a Facebook page to share his brother’s story, highlighting “Fernando.”

Two months later, a message arrived in the page’s inbox from a woman who said she knew the man who killed Kevin. And she knew details about the case that the police had kept under wraps. Her information, Ron Clewer told Rockford news station WIFR, helped police identify the man known as “Fernando.”

Now, Chicago police think “Fernando” worked with another man to target Kevin Clewer for a robbery, according to the TV report.

“They would go into a bar,” Clewer told WIFR. “They would find somebody who was attracted to them or attracted to one of them.”

Chicago police have long said Clewer was last seen leaving Little Jim’s and walking toward Clewer’s nearby apartment with “Fernando.” How the second man may have joined them is not clear.

Ron Clewer suggested yesterday that Clewer may have been drugged and killed at the apartment during a robbery attempt.

Nearly a year ago, Chicago police publicized the Clewer murder in a cold case video, revealing for the first time that they had identified “Fernando,” which is not the suspect’s real name. “Fernando” is from Puerto Rico, and he returned to the island after police released the murder suspect sketch in 2004, Homicide Division Lt. William Svilar said in the video. Since 2004, Svilar said, the suspect has returned to Chicago occasionally.

According to Svilar, “Fernando” 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.

“Fernando” may have also gone by the names Francisco or Adolfo, Clewer told WIFR.

“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.

Yesterday, Ron Clewer told the Rockford station that both “Fernando” and the newly-revealed second man have ties to Puerto Rico and Chicago.

Puerto Rico instituted strict travel restrictions during COVID, which delayed police efforts, Ron Clewer said.

The phone number for CPD’s anonymous homicide tip line is 833-408-0069. Clewer’s case number is HK-259944.

Ron Clewer can be contacted via Facebook and the Clewer family’s long-running web page.

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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