Archive for Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mystery surrounds Yello Sub death

Former employee’s reason for returning after party unknown

July 17, 2007


Lawrence man found dead at local sub shop

Justin Emmons, 34, was found inside Yello Sub on West 12th St. where neighbors say a wild party raged until the wee hours of this morning. Enlarge video

Family and friends mourn the loss of Justin Emmons

While Lawrence police have yet to release any official information about what led to Justin Emmons' death, tonight loved ones remember who they call "the rock star of the family." Enlarge video

Tragedy followed celebration early Monday, after a Lawrence man's body was found at a local sandwich shop.

The body of Justin Emmons, 34, a former employee of Yello Sub, 624 W. 12th St., was discovered about 6 a.m. Monday at the restaurant. More recently, Emmons had been general manager of Big 12 Burrito, which is tucked behind The Crossing, a bar two doors down from the Yello Sub. The store had closed for the summer and he was currently working at Marisco's and JB Stouts, family members said Monday night.

Police said late Monday that they were still trying to determine what happened to Emmons.

"A former employee was inside and gave us a call because he basically found someone in there who was deceased," said Lawrence police Capt. Ed Brunt.

The restaurant, which closed its doors Saturday, was the site of a party Sunday. On Monday morning, cigarette butts, beer bottles and plastic cups littered Yello Sub's front lawn. Blue spray-painted graffiti covered the outside wall facing Indiana Street.

About 2 a.m. Monday, police responded to a report of criminal damage to property. A can of paint apparently had been thrown through one of the restaurant's windows, police said.

Yello Sub owners decided to close the store because the property at 12th and Indiana streets is in the path of a new development, "Eldridge on the Hill," a seven-story residential and commercial project. Yello Sub employees said last week that they were notified that Saturday would be the sandwich shop's final day of operation.

Surveying the damage to the business Monday, Jeff Landes, 37, a former Yello Sub employee and Lawrence resident, said he considered Emmons a friend.

"I think he was probably as upset about (the closing) as the rest of us were," Landes said. "He was just always really friendly, happy to meet anybody."

Emmons' stepmother, Trish Emmons, said that he loved to kayak and "was always eager for adventure."

"He loved to tease and make everyone smile and give them a hard time," she said.

Yello Sub co-owner Jeff Klusman, who said the party was unauthorized, said employees told him that Emmons had been at the party earlier in the night but left.

"He left before the cops arrived," he said about the 2 a.m. arrival of police officers.

Klusman said he strongly believes that his former employee's death is unrelated to the party.

"I think (Emmons' death) happened after everyone was gone and the doors were locked," Klusman said.

Why Emmons returned to Yello Sub remains unclear, however.

Sean Hall, 18, who lives on Indiana Street across the street from the business, said he heard fireworks around 2 a.m.

"They were shooting fireworks off like it was a big finale to the end of Yello Sub," he said.

The party appeared to have cleared out by 3:30 a.m., Hall said. But while the party had dissipated, it was a later, louder noise that alarmed him.

Around 4 a.m., "I was laying in bed and I heard this really loud sound," the Kansas University sophomore said. "It wasn't fireworks, I knew that. I was very sure."

Lawrence police are continuing their investigation into the death.


maybeso 10 years, 10 months ago

RBear, you may have meant to say "coincidence."

Nikki May 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm willing to bet the hotel has nothing to do with it. I think you watch too many crime shows.

indythinker 10 years, 10 months ago

to dispell any rumors...listen to the following...

it is believed to be that justin returned to the yellow sub to retrieve his bicycle. for some reason, he may have attempted to re-enter the building through a window that was broken. he likely slipped somehow and cut himself badly and bled to death. no foul play was evident. period.

i would suspect that he cut a femoral artery. his demise would have been fairly quick and relatively painless.

i've known justin for quite some time. he was a good guy and got along with everyone. it's a tragic incident for sure. but, i would like to think he went as peacefully as he lived his life.

sustainabilitysister 10 years, 10 months ago

Justin was a wonderful person who will be greatly missed! I remember Justin and his amazing dalmation Jazz who would brighten up anyone's day. He had such positive energy and a smile that was infectious. Those that were touched by Justin are truly lucky. To his wonderful family and friends whom are mourning, I'm so sorry.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

TheEleventhStephanie 10 years, 10 months ago

Why was Raging Bear's post removed?

If the JW really gave a hoot about good taste, they wouldn't allow any comments on an article about a death so recent.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 10 months ago

"he cut a femoral artery"

I think his death would no longer be considered "a mystery" if he had a cut on his thigh.

indythinker 10 years, 10 months ago


-"he cut a femoral artery"

I think his death would no longer be considered "a mystery" if he had a cut on his thigh.-

That comment was preceeded by "I would suspect" and is in no way meant to be factual but only to illustrate the type of injury that could cause enough rapid blood loss as to not realize the seriousness and call for help fast enough.

The location of the cut would likely not be through the thigh muscle tissue but rather to the right or left side of the groin area. Again, just speculation.

I'm quite certain an autopsy will reveal the truth. But according to my "sources" no blunt trauma/gunshot was involved.

Either way, he was a good kid with a big heart and I was glad to have known him.

nosense 10 years, 10 months ago

Regardless of what happened he was a good guy and it's a shame to see him go. I worked with him for many years, and can say that he was a very nice, creative person with a lot of passion for life. He'll be missed.

greyfeld 10 years, 10 months ago

I didn't know Justin extremely well, but we had known each other for many years; our paths having crossed in a friends of friends way. He was always cheerful, greeted me with an enthusiastic hand shake and seemed genuinely happy to see me again every time we met. He was always interesting to talk to and was a wonderful member of our communicty. The kind of person you would want as a neighbor; who would help you out whenever you needed it, a neighbor you waved at because they were so friendly and pleasant to be around. I was literally stunned this morning when I saw his picture on the front page of the LJW.

If you've lived in Lawrence for any length of time, you probably ate a meal at one time or another that Justin had cooked. He worked as a cook all over town for years. He had recently helped to open the Big 12 Burrito store behind the Crossing. In years prior, he had actually moved to the Northwest and opened a restaurant on an island. He loved to cook, he loved life, his friends and family loved him immensely. He was genuine, real in every sense of the word.

From what I have understood, and I by no means having any concrete evidence, he went in to get his bike that he had left there earlier in the night. Somehow he cut an artery in his leg on some broken glass in the building and bled to death. The fact that his life has ended in such a tragic fashion is saddening to me and many others in the community. Regardless of the wreckless and irresponsible nature of the party, we have lost a friend and a good person. My deepest sympathys go out to his family and close friends.

leadrain 10 years, 10 months ago

So what does that mean? Cut his groin? Maybe he just screwed up BIG time and was too embarrased to call for help? Damn, I hope not. What a way to go.

nosense 10 years, 10 months ago

You may think it's stupid to have a party for a 'sandwich shop' closing down, but it was a Lawrence institution that meant a lot to many people. In fact, I met my wife and some of my best friends working at Yello Sub, & so I'm sad to see it go as well. I wasn't at the party and am not sure of what happened (and neither were most of the people throwing in there two cents here). Whether the party was stupid or not isn't the issue. All you people writing in using the party and it's immature nature as justification for Justin's death, like he deserved it, need to step off. Just shut the f' up and let people who are mourning get some grief off their chest without you writing in (anonymously) to talk shi+ on someone you know nothing about. What's the point?

Chris Golledge 10 years, 10 months ago

My first memory of Yello Sub was a bit of a hole-in-the-wall on 23rd St. where I think the Louisiana Purchase is now. I was hooked from the first bite. That site has been an institution of KU long associated with good times; if I'd worked there I'd have gone to the party.

So, OTR, the party makes sense; the vandalism is regrettable; and, Justin's death is tragic. But, I hardly see where anyone has made any implication or hint that the shop was worth anyone's life. Quit reading more into things than are there. People party and accidents, sometimes tragic, happen, but they don't always happen together. In fact, it sounds like the party was over by the time whatever happened to Justin took place. Else, why would he have not been discovered until the next day.

Emily Hadley 10 years, 10 months ago

To those who might question a party for the store closing, you must not understand the family that was created by working together there. I met several of my lifelong closest friends while working at Yello Sub. Working at Yello Sub developed very strong loyalties, friendships, and families. We have helped and supported each other through personal tragedies and losses and celebrated our successes together. I worked with Justin there twelve years ago, as well as with several individuals who worked through the last day of business, and the very fact that Justin attended this party, years after working there, is evidence of how strong our ties to one another are. Our staff has always been a very close group, whether we knew each other before our time there or met for the first time as coworkers. Anyone with the privilege of working with such a group of folks can understand the desire to get together, remember good times, and come together to deal with this closure, which abruptly and greatly upset the lives and livelihoods of the entire tight-knit group. My deepest condolences go out to Justin's family and to all our friends dealing with this tragic accident.

asauder 10 years, 10 months ago

So the location on 23rd is gone too??? Is Yellow Sub totally gone or do they have a location somewhere else now? This is really sad to read about.

RIP Justin, sounds like you were the type of person we all should have the privilage of knowing.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 10 months ago

Why do so many people know how he died, but the paper doesn't know?

ksmom 10 years, 10 months ago

There is a Yellow Sub on 23rd by Hastings.

sammyk 10 years, 10 months ago

So many people know because of the number of friendships developed over the years and the closeness the family has with these friends.

Matt Toplikar 10 years, 10 months ago

I was at the party Sunday night. For the most part it was just your typical Lawrence party, only it happened to be at Yello- Sub. People drank some beer, there was a bit of live music, everyone was telling old Yello-Sub stories. From what I could tell, most of the vandelism was in the form of employees and former employees writing memories and jokes on the walls and windows in black magic marker. I guess, you could say that's immature, but you have to realize that the people who worked there really loved the place and were pretty heartbroken to be told (without much notice) that it was closing down. I think they figured that since the building was being torn down, that no one would really care. As far as I could tell, it was all pretty harmless until someone showed up and started throwing paint around and then one of the windows was broken. After that the employees started kicking people out just in time for the cops to show up. When I left around 3 or 4 in the morning, things had seemed to settle down. I didn't know Justin, but I've heard nothing but good things about him. I hope his loved ones don't blame a bunch of kids blowing off steam earlier in the night for this horrible accident.

Weezy_Jefferson 10 years, 10 months ago

The thing about these online reader reactions is that you absolutely cannot take them personally or, for that matter, seriously. The anonymity of sitting safely infront of a home computer provides courage for even the most notorious cowards who could never actually verbally say some of the statements they type. How many reader-reaction repliers would suddenly censor themselves if, instead of in an online forum, the debates were held live in an auditorium, and they had to voice their opinions into a microphone? That would surely separate the wheat from the chaff.

tanyabro 10 years, 10 months ago

My heart really goes out to his friends and family. I know firsthand how a tragic death can knock you on your butt...... I hope that they will find peace and and I am really sorry for this tragic death... I'll be keeping his friends and family in my thoughts and prayers.

whatatown 10 years, 10 months ago

While Yello Sub has been a long standing institution here in Lawrence, let's remember that there is still a location here in town. To have a giant closing party for one location is absolutely insane. It's not like the store had feelings, or we can't go get our prison-bound turkey from the 23rd street location. As was stated in previous posts, that yello sub location has been moved all over town, in a variety of locations. It's closed before, and will close again if re-opened. Let's focus on the loss of life, human life, and quit mourning a building.

sydburnz 10 years, 10 months ago

it pains me to see that there are so many negative comments here when justin provided nothing but positivity. I only worked and knew justin for a short time, but in that time I believe I began to get to know quite a bit about him. he never had anything negative to say about anybody or anything. he joined the jb stouts team this summer, about a month ago. he was very talented as far as cooking was concerned, and I knew I could learn many things from him as far as cooking was concerned. he and I had similar tastes in music and movies, and we could talk for hours on that alone. he had a great taste in music, food and beer.

justin loved to make specials, and soups, especially. he told me about all these other restaurants he helped open, he loved to cook, and loved to make people happy with the foods he created. yello sub was one of these places he helped to open on the campus location. he told me a couple days ago that he was going to go to the going away party for yello sub. he had close relationships with people there, and he said the old school crew would be there.... I didnt think sunday night was going to be the last night I would see him, though. both of us worked at jb stouts that night, I got off work a bit before he did. he joined me at the bar for a shift beer, and he asked me for 50 cents so he could have one more beer before he left. he only had 3 dollars in change on him, so I gladly gave him two quarters.

the next morning I was told that he had died, and I was in total shock. Ive been numb ever since then, he was a really cool person. always positive, had a great sense of humour. he liked to pick on people, but never with any malice. he had a great smile and was full of positive energy. I know he had plenty of friends around town, and with a person who had so many friends and acquaintances, he had to be a very kind spirit. and he was. he will truly be missed.

cds 10 years, 10 months ago

Though I havent talked to many of the "old schoolers" in a few years because of personal reasons, Im compleatly heart broken to hear of Justins passing. As many have stated before me Justin was one of the most caring and likeable people one could ever know. Ill miss you Justin. I'll never be able to drink coffee again without thinking of you.

SeanHall 10 years, 10 months ago

My name is Sean Hall, I was interviewed in the article. I wasn't trying to insinuate anything with the comment about the loud noise. I had no idea if it had anything to do with Yellow Sub, But it sounds like I'm saying that I thought he was shot. While reading all of these comments I had no idea who this guy was. It wasn't till looking at his picture that I recognized him and I remember meeting him. He was @ Big 12 and my roomate and I walked over to see what the place was about and he just talked with us in a light hearted attitude for about a half hour. Leaving with my roomate and two applications he said goodbye. It's amazing when you look back and realize that you met someone who is now gone. But seeing how many people this man affected; I almost wish I would have baught a borrito.

classclown 10 years, 10 months ago

"Yello Sub co-owner Jeff Klusman, who said the party was unauthorized, said employees told him that Emmons had been at the party earlier in the night but left."


So everyone that was at that party was trespassing? As well as vandalizing?

FormerCentralKansan 10 years, 10 months ago

I've heard from several co-workers over the course of today that the party at Yello-Sub was basically out of control from the start. 2 of them left around midnight because too many "unsavory characters" showed up and made them feel uncomfortable. The others left around 1am because they didn't like where things were going. Basically free beer and the opportunity to trash a local place of business attracted every jobless loser/druggie/alcoholic this town has. It seems like people keep trying to sugarcoat the party itself and what was going on but more and more information keeps coming out and it's all negative. Someone even posted party pics on larryville but removed them because of the ongoing investigation. If I were at that party, the last thing I'd want is to be seen in those pics and have them posted online. I heard more today than I really wanted to know and will not post what else I was told about the cause of death. Far more than "remembering good times" was going on at that party.

Stinger66 10 years, 10 months ago

So, you're saying the LPD are going to track all 150-200 people at the party and write them tresspassing/vandalism tickets? Yeah, right. No one is being realistic about what happened. Yello Sub was a Lawrence institution for 26 years. 26 years! They were trying to give their customers some lasting memories since they can't go hand eat/hang-out anymore. What's wrong with providing customers one last event? It's just so sad that this ended tragically. No one would care if the tragedy didn't happen. My thoughts and prayers go out to Justin's family/friends.

Marcy McGuffie 10 years, 10 months ago

There are so many misconceptions it's not even funny. I don't have first hand knowledge of everything that went down, but I have a solid source who does have that first hand knowledge. The ljworld is trying to tie the party to the death - and that just don't fly! I'm keeping my mouth shut, because it isn't my knowledge to share. But...

It breaks my heart that everytime I read heated ljworld forum discussions, there's always a few immature idiots who love to see their words in print - and will spew a bunch of filth.

In the end, a life was lost prematurely. From what I hear, he was a decent man. I feel for his family and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.

I read an ignorant comment from yesterday's story basically saying he got what he deserved because he went to this party.

To that poster: One: wait for the facts before making judgements. Two: Are you really Fred Phelps?...sounds like the crap he'd spew. I'm just saying...

classclown 10 years, 10 months ago

Stinger, you ask "What's wrong with providing customers one last event?". The owner says "The party was not authorized."

So who exactly was providing customers one last event since it wasn't the owner? Who took it upon themselves to invite everyone to break the law by trespassing and vandalizing this "sacred institution" that meant so much to everybody that they had to violate it?

Stinger66 10 years, 10 months ago

Classclown: You'll have to take that up with the employees who actively promoted/set up the party. I went because I was personally invited by employees there. From what I witnessed, the party was never really out of control until people started blowing up fireworks/breaking windows...and that is when I left. It was people, hanging out, playing/listening to music and drinking. It wasn't this "crazy bash" which is what people and the media are making it out to be.

Marcy McGuffie 10 years, 10 months ago

Classclown - Um, yeah...guess what - management definitely knew/condoned the party. So, it wasn't exactly trespassing. The owner trusted management to run the business. The owner trusts management to clean up/move everything out. I'm not saying the owner isn't hands on -but, it definitely wasn't trespassing. Do I sound redundant enough yet?

As far as people breaking windows - it wasn't even the people who organized the party.

noway 10 years, 10 months ago

It should be noted that big 12 burrito was also trashed by an individual moments prior to the window at yello sub being "punched out". Justin sadly lost his life to blood loss from the deep laceration he received on his right arm while attempting to breach the window by punching through the plate glass. There was no bike or anything else to be found that was known to be Justin's to be retrieved from yello sub. He took his bike and left much earlier in the evening. These are the facts. I have first hand knowledge of this. Very sad. My condolences to his friends and loved ones.

sedwards 10 years, 10 months ago


How is it that you have first hand knowledge? Were you there when he punched the glass, and then provided no aid? What sort of FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE do you speak of?

Sphinxie 10 years, 10 months ago

Folks, please allow me to add my name to the list of folks who will miss Justin. We got word out here in Colorado yesterday and I registered with LJWorld so that I could pass along my condolences. I'm was (briefly) a co-worker of Justin's at a sandwich shop here in Fort Collins. My brother, a former Lawrence resident, is one of his former roommates back there. I first met Justin over a decade ago and in that time he and Jazz showed up on our doorsteps more than once looking for a place to spend a night or two while he was in town visiting friends and fishing. We spent a few hours together a few years ago while I was visiting friends in Lawrence and although we'd spoken once or twice, I'd never seen him again. I enjoyed his company and the way he described how much he enjoyed the life he was living. I'm sorry to hear that that has been cut short. His was a great sense of humor and if he was cooking and I was invited, it wasn't a meal I was going to want to miss. I will miss Justin and my thoughts and prayers will be with all of you, his friends and family, from here on the Front Range of Colorado. A place that Justin enjoyed. And a place that enjoyed him. Take care.

jonas 10 years, 10 months ago

"OldEnuf2BYurDad (Anonymous) says:

Why do so many people know how he died, but the paper doesn't know?"

Most likely because family gets hints and talks about them to friends, while neither the police nor the paper wishes to rush to judgments because, if they happen to be wrong, they end up looking like horses' rears and imbeciles.

I don't know about banning commentary, but I wonder if there shouldn't be some sort of disclaimer at the beginning warning friends and family to read at own risk: total heartless jerks ahead. I myself, if I lose anyone important and it makes the paper, will probably avoid the commentary.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 10 months ago

I would say that the difference is so many of us know this person, while the other person went to another college, was part of another community, etc. I personally, thought it was horrible when that person died, though I have to say, this seems worse to me because I knew Justin, however, briefly. This just sucks.

aremsan 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks to everybody who has kind words for my cousin and friend.

slkelly 10 years, 10 months ago

I used to work at the Yello Sub about 12 years ago. I always made a point of stopping by every time I came back to visit Lawrence. I learned about its closing today, and I must admit I feel like a little part of myself has also closed forever. A poster above attempted to explain the reason for the party to celebrate the life that was "Yello Sub". If you had ever worked there you wouldn't question the party, or all of the feelings of sadness at the closing of what was for many a Lawrence and a K.U. icon. I only wish that I could have been there to say goodbye to a very important part of my past. I learned alot from working at the sub, met some truly incredible people, and generally learned to survive life in Lawrence in that tiny kitchen. At the sub, freedom of expression was encouraged, and nurtured. Every employee there seemed to challenge themselves in ways they might not have had they been working someplace other than the sub. It was truly an honor to have had the incredible opportunity to have worked, played and lived at the Yello Sub.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.