Before we tell you the top story tonight, we want to take you all the way to San Juan Puerto Rico to hear about the unsolved murder of Latin trap singer Kevin Fret. Tonight we have to bring you two stories, a tale of two Kevins if you will, because we couldn’t decide which one of them to cover for our final episode of pride month. If we look at both of these men, they both represent two very real and different symbols to the gay community. Kevin Fret was loud and proud, gender bending, an icon and advocate for gay rights. He craved the limelight and wanted the world to see him for all that he was- his sexual identity being a big part of that. Kevin Clewer on the other hand represents the everyday man who was just living his life. He went to work, he hung out with friends, and he dated. He loved who he loved and it was what it was but it was not what his loved ones describe as a huge part of his personality. Both of these cases are unsolved and in both of these cases its a very real possibility that this was a hate crime, and the men were targeted based on their sexual preferences. All too often, people are quick to victim blame- especially when we’re talking about underserved and underrepresented populations, but in these cases the victims were as different as can be and were both still brutally murdered.
So on a side note, before we go any further, I just want to remind you all that people are going to hate you no matter what you do. Others will decide they don’t like you with no basis, no merit, and no reason before they even know anything about you. So please don’t waste a single second of your life trying to please others and instead commit your life to being exactly who YOU want to be.
Let me tell you a little about Kevin Fret.
Kevin was a 24 year old rising Latin trap star at the time of his unfortunate murder. By early 2019 he’d made a big name for himself, not just on Puerto Rico but all over as the first openly gay artist in the genre. His manager, Eduardo Rodriguez describes him as an artistic soul, and a big hearted dreamer. Kevin stood out in urbano music because he loved to show off his queer pride. His biggest hits were a song called “Soy Asi” which means “I’m like this” and a part in Mike Duran’s song “Diferente” which means different.
More than just his lyrics, Kevin Fret looked the part too- he loved to dress in flashy gender non conforming ways and was extremely proud to be making people stop and say “Wait a minute, our music doesn’t have to be synonymous with aggressive and violent male behavior”. One article says that Kevin was “upending the genre’s paradigm of macho behavior and misogyny” and he was very proud to play that role, despite the fact that it made him a huge target for harassment and threats.
In 2018 other artists made diss tracks against Kevin, and though they’ve since been taken down and apologies have been issued, the tracks were full of homophobic slurs and unnesseccary rumors. There was backlash on both ends for this incident from fans of both artists, and people felt very emboldened to share their hatred for Kevin behind their phone screens.
At approximately 5:30 in the morning on January 10th of 2019, Kevin was riding his Yamaha motorcycle downtown in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan when he was shot two times, once in the hip and once in the head, killing him instantly. Witnesses report seeing another man on a motorcycle fleeing the scene.
The previous threats and homophobia were not lost on Kevin’s fans, but most of all his own mother. We’re choosing not to name any names in this story, but Kevin’s mom Hilda Rodriguez believes fervently that another latin trap star and his manager consorted to have Kevin killed because his openly gay persona posed a threat, alleging that the two had a secret love affair. There are other rumors in the case that this plot involved a lot of extortion based on a sex tape of the other singer. According to the Criminal Investigation Bureau of San Juan, there are two persons of interest, but according to Billboard magazine (to be clear, not an official police source, this is a music magazine), the artist and manager who Fret’s mother accuses are not those two people. That artist says that out of respect for Kevin’s family he has no comment on the crime, and he has gone on to do other high profile work with big celebrities, but Kevin Fret’s mom still holds tightly to her theory.
Though many people believe that Kevin Fret’s death was a targeted hate crime in the form of an assassination, others are quick to point out the escalating violence in Puerto Rico in general, saying that perhaps it was random violence or a mistaken identity. In the two weeks prior to Fret’s death alone there were 23 other homicides on the island and the FBI had declared the city in a “crisis of violence” just the day before this shooting. Gang affiliations, drug cartels, lots of shootings, it just wasn’t the shocking newsworthy story you may expect, and it seems that Kevin’s fame may be the only reason he got any coverage at all..
Unfortunately I don’t really know where the case stands today in 2022 other than “unsolved” because most of the articles you can find about Kevin Fret’s story are from the weeks immediately following his murder, many of which were written in Spanish beyond my abilities, and then from there he becomes a brief mention in english written articles about unsolved crime, an icon for the latin gay community reduced to just a bullet point of crime.
In 2004, 31 year old Kevin Clewer lived in a Lakeview apartment with a roommate in Boystown Chicago. He had a great job at a company called Flextronics which he loved, and was building a great life for himself full of promise and potential. Kevin’s older brother Ron describes him as kind, trusting, and with a bold personality. He says Kevin was lovable, caring, and could fit in with a variety of different people. Kevin especially loved being an uncle, having grown up in a loving and close knit family who fully supported him.
On Tuesday March 23rd 2004 at around 9:30pm, Kevin and a friend of his, John Siracusa, left his Lakeview apartment to head downtown for a night at the bars. Kevin had a roommate who they’d invited but was unable to attend because he had to be at work by 6:30 the next morning. Their plan was to hang out in the neighborhood of Halstead and Roscoe streets in a part of Chicago known as Boystown. The pair spent the night in three taverns: Sidetracks, Roscoes, and Little Jim’s.. They met up with some other friends and had a fun evening of drinking and dancing!
At Roscoe’s, Kevin met a man who introduced himself as Fernando, and the two really seemed to be hitting it off, so Fernando joined in on the group’s festivities. Fernando was hispanic with what some have called a Spanish accent. He said he was 28, and he was attractive, and the two left Little Jim’s together arm in arm heading toward Kevin’s apartment around 3:15am.
By the next afternoon, when no one had seen or heard from him, Kevin’s boss Pam called his emergency contact, his father Jim. Kevin hadn’t shown up for work that day, and they hadn’t been able to get ahold of him, and since this behavior was so out of character they felt it might be good to check up on him. Jim agreed that this behavior was abnormal and made his way to Kevin’s house for a quick check on his boy.
Kevin’s dad arrived to his apartment to find his car still parked there. At around 6pm, Jim made his way into the back bedroom to find his youngest son’s lifeless body. He was naked and had a robe draped over to cover him. Blood spattered the sheets and the walls. It was everywhere and it was brutal. Kevin’s poor father pushed past his fear and grief to reach 911, but it was unfortunately too late to save the young man.
The autopsy revealed that Kevin had been stabbed 42 times, and if that fact wasn’t brutal enough, we learned that the stabs were all to his back. Investigators immediately believe this means that his attacker must have been someone he trusted intimately, as he was naked and vulnerable with his back turned. Furthermore, and this is something we’ve spoken about recently here, investigators were taken back by the overkill required to stab someone 40 times, likely long after the fatal blow had been delivered.
Kevin’s roommate told investigators that he heard multiple voices in the apartment that night, but that he was trying to sleep and didn’t pay much attention to who the guest was or what time it was. He says it was around 4am that he heard a door close, and other than that he noticed nothing but the closed door when he left the next morning. Police interviewed all of Kevin’s friends from the night before, and a sketch of Fernando was quickly created for distribution.
Investigators say they’ve been as thorough as they could and still have not been able to find the man called Fernando, despite how thoroughly his eye witness sketch was distributed. Kevin’s parents themselves personally hung thousands of flyers around Chicago, and it was distributed widely in the media. Kevin’s family has done everything they could for years to keep Kevin’s name and photo familiar to the public. And for years it brought nothing but heartbreak.
In January of 2021, investigators say there was a break leading them to determine the identity of the suspect. For more than a year, investigators have tightly held this bit of information trying to put together the pieces until just last month, when they finally put out a call for help from the public.
So this is where all of you come in. Investigators say that though they believe they have the right suspect in mind, in order for the murder of Kevin Clewer to be prosecuted by the Cook County State’s attorney’s office new evidence and witness reports are needed.
Chicago Police Homicide Lt. William Svilar is asking for the people of the community to help put a close on this case. They believe there are people in Chicago and beyond who have valuable information that could assist this homicide investigation. Here is the information that they are sharing with us know about the suspect in the murder of Kevin Clewer, so listen carefully:
Investigators believe the suspect was NOT actually named Fernando and most likely only used that name as a ruse when he met Kevin that night.
The suspect is of Puerto Rican descent and he fled to Puerto Rico after the murder, though he has returned back and forth to Chicago sometimes.
This suspect was a member of the gay community in Chicago at the time.
He was known for theft and prostitution.
They believe the suspect has bragged to his friends about luring intoxicated men back to their apartments for sex and then robbing them.
They believe aside from the murder, this is an established pattern of behavior.
It’s also believed that people who know him would be absolutely shocked to find he was responsible for stabbing Kevin Clewer 40 times, that it doesn’t fit his outward display of his appearance or personality at all.
Authorities are begging for any piece of information no matter how big or small because they say it could be the key to solving this case. Please call the Chicago police department if this sounds like anyone you know, even if you’re not sure.
Over the 18 years since Kevin was murdered, both of his parents have passed away from heavy illnesses, something his family feels was hugely impacted by their unimaginable grief. No illness could compare to the pain of not knowing what happened to their son. Kevin’s brother and nieces now carry the torch for the Clewer family, desperately seeking justice for their fun uncle Kevin, who would have celebrated his 50th birthday this year.
If you have any information at all, please call the anonymous tip line 833-408-0060. Tips leading to homicide charges can have up to a $20k reward. You can also leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com