Texas college student remains missing 1 year later

Missing

CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Dec. 13 marked one year since Texas State University student Jason Landry’s car was found crashed on a rural road near Luling, Texas and Landry was reported missing.

Tens of thousands of acres have been searched in the area since, but where Landry went that night remains a mystery.

On Monday, a badly decomposed body was found 20 miles from where Landry went missing.

The remains have not been identified as Landry’s and have yet to be identified publicly. On Wednesday, Kent Landry, Jason’s father, told NewsNation that police do not believe the remains are those of his son.

“A number of people messaged me on Facebook and told me about [the discovered remains] and I reached out to law enforcement,” Kent Landry said. “They’ve been keeping up with us in terms of the investigation. They don’t have an ID on the body but they do think it’s not Jason.”

This was the first time the Landry family had heard of something as jarring as a body being discovered near the area their son was last seen.

“It’s a very odd feeling on some level. It would be a relief to find answers. But then on the other hand, what those answers mean would be: we still don’t have the answer as to what happened a year ago,” he said.

Here’s a timeline of the case:

Dec. 13, 2020: Landry goes missing

Jason Landry was headed home to Missouri City for Christmas break when law enforcement officials say they found his car totaled on Salt Flat Road near Luling. The 21-year-old only made it about 30 miles from the college’s San Marcos campus.

Inside the crashed Nissan Altima were Landry’s wallet, phone and other personal belongings, but Landry was nowhere to be found.

Shortly after Landry was reported missing, search and rescue efforts began in the area.

Dec. 17, 2020: Landry’s parents issue desperate plea

Four days after the Texas State University student went missing, Landry’s father, Kent, talked to NewsNation affiliate KXAN as he and other family members helped official crews search the area where Landry’s car was found wrecked.

“We just want you home. Nothing else. Nothing else matters. I love you, son,” Kent said. 

At that point, agencies including Texas Search and Rescue, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Highway Patrol, the Texas State Police Department and even local volunteers were spending entire days looking for Jason. 

Dec. 20, 2020: Prayer vigil held

Seven days after Landry was reported missing, a prayer vigil was held at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Missouri City.

“I stand here almost a week later and I still don’t know where my son is and I cannot tell you how hard that is,” Kent said at that vigil. “How I am feeling is we are living the worst dream of every parent.”

Jan. 29, 2021: Cellphone data pinpoints Landry’s route

A couple weeks after Landry’s disappearance, investigators released more details about his possible route using cellphone data.

That data showed Landry left his San Marcos apartment at 10:55 p.m. Dec. 13 for his journey home. Here’s a timeline of where his cellphone data tracked him, as released by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.

  • 11:05 p.m. – Landry drives his car on Highway 80, passes under I-35 in San Marcos, continues south
  • 11:07 p.m. – Enters Caldwell County
  • 11:11 p.m. – Landry drives through Martindale, Texas, continues south on Highway 80
  • 11:15 p.m. – Passes over State Highway 130 on Highway 80
  • 11:17 p.m. – Travels through Fentress, Texas, enters Prairie Lea, Texas, two minutes later
  • 11:21 p.m. – Enters Stairtown, Texas
  • 11:24 p.m. – Enters the City of Luling on Highway 80, goes through the intersection of Hackberry Street (Highway 80 becomes Austin Street here)

Landry then stops using the Waze app and opens Snapchat. He continued on Austin Street to the intersection with U.S. Highway 183 or Magnolia Avenue, CCSO said. It’s believed he went through the intersection and continued on East Austin Street. It’s at this intersection that Landry’s digital footprint stops.

Investigators also released photos and details about some of the personal items found at and near the scene of the crash including clothing, a watch and a backpack.

Feb. 25, 2021: TEXSAR search for Landry resumes

More than 100 members of Texas Search and Rescue, or TEXSAR, went out for a three-day search in late February looking for any new clues as to what could have happened to Landry.

TEXSAR initially searched for nine days after Landry’s disappearance, according to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Three days were devoted to aerial searches. More than 100 volunteers were able to cover 31,680 acres.

May 17, 2021: Family puts up $10,000 reward

Five months after Landry was reported missing, his family announced they were offering $10,000 for anyone who had information that could lead them to an answer on what happened to Landry.

Jason’s family made the announcement in a Facebook post, which read in part:

“This offer requires that the information provided by the claimant is the direct and proximate cause of the location and return of Jason Landry. The information must be specific, adequate, timely and actually used by law enforcement, search agencies or other appropriate entities to find and return Jason to his family. The successful claimant must provide sufficient and clear written details that enable search and law enforcement teams to locate and return Jason.

Oct. 11, 2021: New points of interest identified

New search images were released in mid-October, roughly 10 months after the disappearance. To that point, there had been six searches spanning across 31,000 acres for Landry.

With the help of Texas State Criminology Researcher Dr. Kim Rossmo, investigators put all of the drone imaging they had through a computer program that tracked hundreds of anomalies.

The drone program analyzes those images and looks for color variations in the pictures, according to Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeff Ferry.

Investigators are using the color white to find bone fragments across the area where Landry went missing.

“We’re going to go back and determine if those are human remains or critters,” Ferry said.

Through that process, researchers named 86 points of interest.

Oct. 16, 2021: Points of interest used for another search

More than 50 volunteers with TEXSAR and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office (swept the area again in October after dozens of points of interest were compiled in the case using drone images, artificial intelligence and information gathered during previous searches, among other resources.

Volunteers say terrain near Salt Flat Road is difficult to navigate because of the thick brush. That also makes it more difficult to spot any signs Landry was nearby.

Adding to the difficulty of the search was recent weather, which caused flooding in many areas.

Anyone with information about Landry’s disappearance is urged to contact Capt. Jeff Ferry of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office by calling (512) 398-6777 ext. 4504 or by emailing Jeff.Ferry@co.caldwell.tx.us.

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