Murders That Rocked Gay Community Unsolved After 7 Years

CHICAGO (CBS) — Seven years after Kevin Clewer was found brutally stabbed to death in his apartment in Boystown, and fears erupted about a serial killer in the neighborhood, the case remains unsolved.

Also still unsolved is the case of theatre director Brad Winters, who was found stabbed to death in his Lincoln Park neighborhood home in 2003.

Clewer’s body was found by his father on March 24, 2004, in his third-floor apartment in at 3444 N. Elaine Pl. His family said he had been at the clubs on Halsted Street the night before, and his family became concerned and came to check on him when he didn’t show up for work.

With the help of witnesses, their investigation eventually zeroed-in on a “person of interest” last seen with Clewer, 31. A widely circulated composite sketch identified the man as “Fernando,” described by police as white or Hispanic, 5 foot 7, about 25 years old, with an athletic build and dark wavy hair with a Hispanic or European-Spanish accent.

But the investigation stalled.

Kevin Clewer’s parents, Jim Clewer and Pam Cunningham, distributed tens of thousands of fliers with the sketch of “Fernando” and marched in the Gay Pride Parade. But both died suddenly within a week of each other in 2005.

After Clewer’s murder, concerns mounted that a serial killer might be preying on gay men in Chicago, particularly considering the similiarities with Winters’ unsolved murder seven months earlier.

Winters’ body was found on Aug. 19, 2003, in his apartment at 538 W. Belden Ave. He had been stabbed to death.

Published reports said Winters, 38, also had been at the bars on Halsted Street before his murder, and many wondered if “Fernando” might have been his killer.

There were also questions about whether at least two other murders were related. The body of Cubs souvenir shop owner Forest Cowley was found on June 29, 2004, in his apartment at 638 W. Cornelia Ave. only about a block from Clewer’s apartment. On Oct. 31, 2004, the body of Charles Gibson, 54, was found in his home at 1038 W. Balmoral Ave. in the Edgewater neighborhood, and published reports said he spent evenings at one of the same bars as Winters and Clewer.

Police later concluded Gibson’s murder was not related to that of Winters or Clewer, and an acquaintance, Richard DiMatteo, was later convicted of killing Cowley.

But Clewer and Winters’ murders remain cold cases.

Last year, Gay Chicago Magazine revisited the cases. At the time, Belmont Area Detective Division Cmdr. Gary Yamashiroya told the magazine’s Gary Barlow that police had found no evidence to link the Clewer and Winter cases, although no similar pattern of homicides had emerged since.

Neither Clewer’s home nor Winters’ showed signs of forced entry, indicating the men had let their killers in willingly, the magazine pointed out.

Also in the issue last year, Gay Chicago Magazine published some memories of Clewer and Winters, which showed strong emotions and pleas for the killer to come forward.

“I personally believe the person whom killed Kevin is reading this right now. I know he is,” wrote Jennifer Adamo-Brian, Kevin Clewer’s cousin through marriage. “I want to say to you, come forward, enough is enough. Please know what you are doing by not coming forward has been so harmful to our family. Give us, and yourself, peace. It is time.”

“I inherited (Winters’) cat when he was killed, so I think about him every day. What if?” wrote Winters’ friend, Kitty Kurth. “The police said that the person who killed him took his cell phone and his wallet. They were wrong. The person who killed him took so much more than that.”

But no new developments have been reported in either Clewer or Winters’ case since.

The Clewer family maintains a Web site,, in Kevin Clewer’s memory.

Anyone with information about the Clewer or Winters case should contact Chicago Police Belmont Area Detectives at (312) 744-8261. Anonymous tips can also be made to Cook County Crime Stoppers at hotline number (800) 535-STOP.

  • Angina

    I really can’t help but feel gays are all too often thought of second class citizens and count less than we straights. Do you believe the police try as hard to catch one who kills a gay as they do a nice, straight person with a family? I don’t. Just as they do not respond as quickly in a bad neighbourhood as they do in a nice neighbourhood, I feel they care less about gays than they do straights. It’s time we realise we all bleed when cut and all our blood is the same. It’s time we start caring about everyone as human beings and not black, white, gay, Muslim, American, Malaysian. We are all brothers and sisters and we are here to take care of each other.

    • Joe

      You are wrong, blacks are considered second class citizens before anyone else.

      • Actually...

        Black people have more rights than gay people.

      • Eric in Chicago

        sorry but you can’t say the N word in public but you can say the F slur about gay people on the street. Point made.

  • Amy

    I’m glad to see these unsolved cases resurface. The friends and families of these men need to know their loved ones matter and have not been forgotten. If they can continue getting press, you just never know when the killer might make the mistake that brings him or her to justice. Someone knows something. Please come forward and share your knowledge. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

  • Arjay

    As a gay man I felt the need to respond to Angina’s message. In many situations, gay people ARE treated as second class citizens. On the other hand, I have no direct experience with the police treating me as such. This is not to suggest that the CPD are above doing this. I just haven’t experienced it. Also, if we are going to be honest here,many gay men,myself included,have practiced in risky behaviors(ie:letting a complete stranger into your home) without much thought of the potential consequences. Unfortunately,in these 2 cases,this type of behavior may have led to the victims muder. The responsibility can start with the individual who needs to place more value on their own safety and security and less on their momentary gratification. Otherwise,the results can be tragic.It’s a rough place out here in the big city.

    • Gerald Spencer

      This comment says that gay people are different than other people. They aren’t, straight people do exactly ALL the same things gay people do and straight people do them in MUCH higher numbers. Arjay’s comment puts blame on victims, the blame belongs to the perpetrators.

  • Cruising For Al Pacino

    You made me do that. Cruising 1981 Al Pacino. Good movie, as a straight guy, kind of scary.

  • Latest 800 Phone Number News - Att wireless phone number

    […] and fears of a serial murderer in the neighborhood, the case remains unresolved. Read more on CBS Chicago Oh, Baby! The fresh spring sun peeked through long enough for a herd of sheep and goat new […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live