LULING, Texas - It's been 365 days without an answer for the family of missing Texas State University student Jason Landry.
"A year. I just I mean," said Jason's father, Kent Landry. "On some level, time flies, but it seems also like the longest year of our life. You know?"
Jason Landry was driving home to Missouri City from San Marcos for winter break last year when Capt. Jeff Ferry with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office believes Jason crashed his car on a dirt road in Luling.
"And about 900 feet away from the collision scene. He puts his hat, his backpack [cut] continues walking south and about 80 feet maybe 100 feet past that is where he starts taking his clothes off and then and the clothes are found in a manner which you would, you know if you're walking and taking your clothes off…and that's the last time there's any known location of Jason," Ferry said.
A year later, Ferry believes Jason would have had to traverse the terrain barefoot and naked, possibly under the influence, and is still in the area. "I think it's most likely that Jason expired out there," Ferry said. "And that animals got his remains."
The rural floodplain has been grid searched more than half a dozen times by searchers, wearing GPS trackers and using drones, to comb through thousands of bones identifying points of interest. Now the focus is on feral hogs.
Ferry is trying to set up a study with the Forensic Anthropology Research Center, an outdoor human decomposition facility at Texas State.
Ferry's questions aren't just limited to feral hogs, as cadaver dogs had alerted on a body of water in the early days of the search and the area is dotted with oil tanks.
"And there really is no good way for us to search those we'd have to vacuum pump every one of them and that could take years," Ferry said. "So I'm not, we're not done looking. I still think he's out there. We just missed him."
Retired FBI agent Abel Pena disagrees. Pena runs Project Absentia, a nonprofit that helps locate missing people, and he thinks something more nefarious happened. "We've gone back and looked at some of the early data and spoken to some of the early witnesses and have discovered some anomalies," Pena said.
Landry's case has also drawn attention from outside of Texas. Jennifer Young, a Kansas mother, says she has been following Jason's case for the past year and has started a petition for a geofence warrant, which would help investigators better pinpoint who was in the area when Jason vanished.
On Monday more than 12,000 people had signed the petition, however Ferry says it's not something his office can get as there has to be evidence of a crime for a judge to sign off.
With investigators conflicting theories, the Landry family hopes Jason isn't left behind at the impasse.
Anyone with information on Jason Landry's whereabouts is asked to contact the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at 512-398-6777. Project Absentia has also set up a tipline at 726-777-1259.
WHO IS JASON LANDRY?
Investigators believe the 21-year-old planned to drive home from his apartment in San Marcos to Missouri City, a suburb of Houston. A timeline from the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office tracks Landry's movements from when he left his apartment in San Marcos to when his phone ceased pinging in Luling.
The timeline provided by CCSO is as follows:
- December 13, 2020, 10:55 p.m.: Landry leaves his apartment in San Marcos, headed to Missouri City
- December 13, 2020, 11:05 p.m.: Landry is driving on Hwy 80 and passes under I-35 in San Marcos
- December 13, 2020, 11:07 p.m.: Landry enters Caldwell County on Hwy 80, heading south
- December 13, 2020, 11:11 p.m.: Landry enters Martindale, still heading south on Hwy 80
- December 13, 2020, 11:15 p.m.: Landry passes over SH 130 on Hwy 80
- December 13, 2020, 11:17-11:21 p.m.: Landry passes through Fentress, Prairie Lea, and Stairtown
- December 13, 2020, 11:24 p.m.: Landry enters Luling on Hwy 80.
CCSO says that as Landry went through the intersection at Hackberry Street where Hwy 80 becomes Austin Street, he stopped using the Waze app and began using Snapchat.
Landry then continued on Austin St. to the intersection with U.S. 183, also known as Magnolia Avenue, and CCSO says investigators believe he continued straight through that intersection, continuing onto E. Austin, but at this intersection, his digital footprint stops. Landry then continued on E. Austin onto Spruce Street, which turns into Salt Flat Road.
A volunteer firefighter found Jason Landry’s car crashed and abandoned on the 2300 block around 12:30 a.m. on December 14, says CCSO. The vehicle's lights were still on. A highway patrol trooper had Jason’s car towed. He took his backpack, which contained a few joints, and left.
Hours later, Jason Landry's father Kent Landry found his way to Salt Flat Road. He expected to see flashing police lights and his son. Instead, the road was dark and empty. "I saw deer, three different sets of deer ran by. Coyotes ran by and I didn’t see another car, another person."
The clothing Jason Landry had been wearing, his shoes, even his underwear, were scattered throughout the street. "I found [my son’s] fish. I found where the accident was, and I’m the only one who took pictures or video of that." he said.
Kent Landry was able to locate his son’s vehicle at an impound lot. His cellphone was still in the car. No one was searching for him. Kent Landry added, "[the accident scene is] the middle of nowhere. In that hour window, it may very well be possible that there’s not another person in that box except Jason and whoever did whatever they did. Whoever else is involved in this case."
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