Facebook message may have cracked 19-year-old murder case with Rockford ties

A Facebook message may have cracked a 2004 murder case in Illinois. (Source: WIFR)
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 6:34 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A Facebook message may be what ultimately leads to an arrest in the 19-year-old brutal unsolved murder of a Rochelle High School graduate.

Police say 31-year-old Kevin Clewer was stabbed more than 40 times in the early hours of March 24, 2004, inside his Chicago apartment.

After chasing dozens of leads that went nowhere, Clewer’s brother, Rockford resident Ron Clewer, started a Facebook page to publicize a composite sketch of a man who used the name “Fernando” and may have been with Kevin the night he was killed.

“There’s been several leads, but none that really amounted to much,” Ron Clewer said.

Then came August 2020. That’s when he says a woman who claimed to know who killed Clewer’s brother pinged the Facebook page’s inbox. Chicago investigators followed up on that message and soon learned it was unlike others received in the past. The woman knew things about the case that have never been made public. Investigators then tracked down a person who they say is the man in the composite sketch.

“The police do believe that this individual, along with a relation to him, were involved in Kevin’s death,” Clewer said.

Clewer said police now believe the man known as Fernando was with another man when they targeted Kevin using a tactic that’s familiar to police.

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

Clewer said he’s confident that’s what happened. He believes Kevin ended up back at his Boystown apartment after the bars closed with two men, where he was possibly drugged and stabbed during a robbery attempt.

Clewer says police believe both persons of interest have ties to Puerto Rico and Chicago. But because of the pandemic-related restrictions that were in place when the tip came in, the case has seen a number of delays.

Clewer is now waiting for investigators to finalize the evidence they need to make an arrest. He says too many cases end up like his brother’s.

“With the amount of cold-case files such as Kevin’s stacking up, they don’t get a ton of attention if families don’t stay at the table and try to push for accountability,” he said.

Clewer said “Fernando” may also go by Francisco or Adolfo. He says the man and at least one accomplice may be responsible for a string of similar crimes in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood between 2003 and 2005.