Not long ago I began a dialogue with Ron Clewer; brother of slain community member, Kevin Clewer. It was the early spring of 2004 that the Chicago LGBT community found out that one of its own was brutally attacked and murdered.
Six years later, there's still no suspect in jail. Described at the time as a male white Hispanic, approx. 25 years old, 5' 7" tall, slim/athletic build, speaks with a Hispanic or European Spanish accent; he was thought to occasionally work as a male prostitute, though police stressed there was no indication he was engaged in an act of prostitution the night of the homicide. (Police composite sketch.)
The Clewer family still feels the horrible pain of loss and violation. I had the opportunity to talk with Ron about the case and to learn more about his wonderful brother; someone not unlike many of us in the Chicago community.
Take us to the beginning, what happened?
On March 23rd 2004 Kevin visited two Halsted Street bars with a friend after work. It is alleged he went to Roscoe's and Little Jim's shortly after dinner time until 4 am. On March 24th Kevin did not show up at work and since this was unlike him, his employer was concerned and contacted my mom after he failed to answer their calls. My mom also tried calling him to no avail and became extremely concerned.
She contacted my dad and me asking that my dad check on Kevin since he lived closer. He lived southwest of Chicago and she lived farther away, near Dekalb. My dad arrived at about 5:00 p.m. on the evening of the 24th. He was concerned as his car was in the parking lot. My dad was unable to access the building until buzzed in by a neighbor we knew; a friend of Kevin's who lived across the hall. When my dad got to Kevin's apartment he spoke to the neighbor across the hall and asked about accessing Kevin's apartment via the landlord. When it was determined the manager's office was closed for the day, my dad pushed in Kevin's apartment door. He noticed Kevin's bedroom door was closed, knocked and when no one answered, opened it. He found Kevin on the floor. My dad realized Kevin had been stabbed despite the darkness in the room. He had my step mother contact 911..
I didn't arrive in Chicago, from Rockford until about 10 pm at which point I met the police and my dad. I found out Kevin had been stabbed multiple times; later finding out it was 42 times in the back.
What do you know about your brother's killer?
Aside from personal sentiment (I know) little to nothing. It is alleged there is a person of interest who may or may not be the killer. A composite of this person was released and public help to identify the suspect was requested. There is claim the person has been identified and there is claim this is untrue.
I have been told by the detectives it is important to find this person so I am unsure where the truth lies. My personal opinion is that the person responsible for my brother's death is weak, disgusting and sick. I always thought of myself as an understanding and caring person; however, with Kevin's death I realize what it means to feel derision for another human being. This in itself makes me sick and causes me a great deal of trouble on top of the obvious pain over the loss of my brother. Someday I will have an opportunity to speak to Kevin's killer and I will share the pain he caused. Until then, I hope it haunts him. I wish I could find the strength to forgive however, I feel for now I can't; my family has lost too much.
Tell us about your brother.
Kevin was the person I wanted to be! I am always "business" where he was the right combination of intelligence, seriousness and humor. A real person; unafraid to claim and admit who he was. Of course laying yourself out like that did open him up to occasional hurt but he was able to overcome an unfortunate situation quickly due to his humor and ability to find the good in others. He was "real" as many would say. As my younger brother by seven years it was really awesome watching him turn into an adult… a brother I was proud of and learned a great deal from. As kids we fought a lot, as kids do. I miss him a lot and many days I find my self caught up in thoughts of did it really all happen? His loss is incomprehensible.
How can the community get involved?
Come forward with information about the person of interest, Fernando and if they know its not him, then come forward with who it is. Come forward with any and all information.
There has been a claim by the police that the LGBT community is afraid to interact with the police. I am not saying I believe this, but if it's true for any member of the community whether LGBT or not... If you know something I ask you to consider placing yourself in my shoes - my brother was brutally murdered, the degree of his loss weighed heavily on my parents who both died a year later, my daughters have no uncle and lost grandparents, my family as I knew it is gone, the multitudes of pain is incredible.
If in these shoes can you understand the importance of coming forward; if the description I have been given of the relationship between the LGBT community and the police is correct then please stand up and have your voice heard... don't stop until it is. I am hopeful the person who knows something decides to do what is right and comes forward to speak… be diligent in this effort. Please!
Is there a hotline, website, Facebook?
The police have a contact line at 312-744-8261. Refer to case number HK-259944. There is a Crime Stoppers anonymous hotline at 1-800-535-STOP. If you can't or don't want to speak to the police, you don't have to give your name.
I have established a website www.4chicagkev.com, plus a Facebook site as "Kevin Clewer".
How is the Clewer Family coping with this loss?
Good question... some days ok and others, despite nearly six years of time not so well. Our lives have changed significantly because of Kevin's death. We have a ways to go.
What do you need from us to help?
Remembering, reminding and encouraging… Please help people remember Kevin; that he is more than a murder or gay male statistic or an old headline. He was a real person, with a real family. He died tragically and someone has been allowed to get away with it. Helping people remember this along with reminding and encouraging them how to do what is right is the help you could most offer and what I'd greatly appreciate.