Death From Debt


Priscila Chavez, Reporter

How far would you go to get out of debt or to get some cash that you really really need? Some people even go as far as selling their personal items like their own home or their car but others go even further than this because they just can’t take it anymore or just aren’t happy.

     Lowell Hawthorne , 57 the Jamaican immigrant and founder of Golden Krust Jamaican Beef Patty started Golden Krust with a single fast food eatery on East Gun Hill Road in Bronx and opened 16 more across the city before launching a franchise operation in 1996. The company now has 120 outlets in nine states and sells their famous beef patties in more than 20,000 supermarkets as well as to the city schools system, state, penal system, and US military according a news release issued last year.

     In August Hawthorne was impacted with a proposed class action suit alleging he cheated  as many as 100+ workers at the Golden Krust plant out of overtime pay. The suit is fairly common in the foodservice industry and remains pending in Manhattan federal court.

      Married with three sons and a daughter Hawthorne ended his life during the early days of December and was found on the floor of his own office in New York. Surveillance video shows Hawthorne shooting himself in the head with a single bullet wound and a handgun lying right next to him in Golden Krust Warehouse and Bakery. Before commiting the crime to himself the video shows Hawthorne speaking with a couple of workers who left the room but then later both employees crouched down when they returned to his office. It was unclear if they actually saw Hawthorne stick the bullet through his head. But one of them was seen making a phone call which sources say it was to call the police. Hawthorne’s younger brother, Milton Hawthorne met the cops who appeared at the Golden Krust Plant located on 3958 Park Ave, around 5:15 pm Saturday in response to 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person armed with a gun.

     “It’s really sad to see a man take his own life. Debt can really overwhelm a person and it’s important for people to realize that something like financial issues and big mistakes can lead to a person doing this,” said Cynthia Oyervides (‘18).

          Hawthorne employed dozens of relatives at the business he started in 1989 and sources revealed that he had left a suicide note apologizing to his family. Al Alston who became friends with Hawthorne 30 years ago when they were both NYPD accountants and now owns a Golden Krust franchise in Queens calls his suicide “more than unexpected” and out of his character and saying how happy he was about the recent birth of his granddaughter.

      “He seemed to like his job and seemed happy it just shows that people aren’t really how they express themselves,” said Kayla Polo (‘18).

     Mourners gathered at Hawthorne’s home in Elmsford with son Omar, Golden Krust’s director of franchise and community development saying via email that friends and family are still saddened and not taking any interviews during this moment of grief. During a short news conference at Golden Krust Bakery company spokesman, and Hawthorne’s nephew, Steven Clarke said Hawthorne’s wife, Lorna Hawthorne were making funeral service arrangements and it was unsure if there would be a memorial service available to the public.