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, 4chicagokev.com, 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.