Even in a city that’s suffered so many murders, the killing of Kevin Clewer seemed unusually violent to veteran Chicago Homicide Detective Lt. William Svilar, who has sadly seen it all.
"Just a cold-blooded murder," Svilar said, describing the case. "There’s no evidence to suggest that [Clewer] fought back. All the wounds are in his back."
On March 23, 2004, Clewer, 31, was out with his friends, bar hopping on North Halsted Street in the Lake View community. Police reports say he met a stranger, and they went back to Clewer's place nearby. The next day when Clewer did not show up at work, his father drove to his apartment and found his son’s body on the floor.
"He’s got multiple stab wounds. I want to say 40, all in the back," Svilar said of the crime scene. "That’s rage. That’s what we call overkill."
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According to police, Clewer did not have any enemies and was described as a nice kid.
Clewer grew up in Calumet City with his older brother Ron and parents who loved spending time together. With the support of his family, Clewer came out in high school and then moved to Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood in his late 20s.
"He had relationships, and those men would come over to our house. We’d be together at Christmas, we’d be together at Thanksgiving, and they were a part of our family," said Clewer's brother, Ron.
Police say a possible motive was robbery. A suspect was the stranger from the bar.
Chicago police created a composite of the suspect and passed it throughout the neighborhood.
"He identified himself in the bar as Fernando, but that’s not his name," said Svilar, adding the suspect was known in the community and had a history of robbery but not of violence. "As a matter of fact, most of [the robberies] weren’t reported. … We learned about them through interviews because most people don’t want to report that. That’s an embarrassing situation."
Police are not releasing the suspect's name but say they know who he is.
"He’s of Puerto Rican descent and has traveled back and forth from Chicago to Puerto Rico," added Svilar.
Clewer's family has searched for the killer, even posting flyers of the suspect in Puerto Rico.
"We know he’s no longer in Chicago," said Ron Clewer. "We know people know him."
Ron Clewer’s quest for his brother’s killer is now a lonely one. A year after the murder, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and died. Just two weeks later, his father died from a heart attack. It seemed both their hearts had been broken at the age of 56.
"It’s a lot of stress for a family to endure," said Ron Clewer. "I saw over time how much this was literally taking out of them physically, emotionally and mentally."
Eighteen years after Kevin’s death, Ron Clewer is now 56 years old and continues fighting for justice for his brother and his parents.
"I hope Kevin’s story motivates you to call the police and give them information," he pleaded.
Anyone with information can anonymously call the Chicago Police Homicide tip line at 833-408-0069 or send an email to CPDTip.com. Tips leading to charges or a conviction can receive up to $15,000 in reward money.