"It’s been 591 days of ups and downs--this has been a very different day," said Kent Landry, Jason's father.
Kent Landry said that he woke up to messages Wednesday about a post made by the NYPD asking for help identifying a young man who had been found unconscious and unresponsive in the street near University Avenue and Reservoir Avenue in the Bronx just after 6:30 a.m. Friday, July 22.
"When I woke up this morning, I'm not even sure how many direct messages I had about this," Kent Landry said. "And not long after that, the attorney general's office was in the loop, and they were already in contact with the investigators in New York."
The man in the photo, who has since been identified as a man from Yonkers, New York, looked similar to Jason, but Kent didn't think it was his son from the picture. However, it was a sliver of hope.
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"It looked a lot like him. I mean, I had to --both my wife and I had put our phone down and got the computer out so we could see a better picture," Kent Landry said.
"His name has gotten out there, his story has gotten out there. The picture's gotten out there to a whole lot of people who had never heard of Jason. So who knows what God does with that? You know, all it takes is one person who says, oh, I remember, I didn't know about this, but I remember seeing something," Kent said. "It just takes one person to come forward to break the whole case open. So maybe that's what happened today."
Catherine Shellman has been helping to raise awareness of Jason's disappearance ever since she heard about his story. "If it's him, thank god he's alive. If it's not him, the family has no answers and the search continues," she said about what she was thinking when she had heard about the man in the Bronx.
Years ago, Shellman had lost her own daughter, who was also a Texas State student.
"I used to think that was the worst thing ever. But when I heard about the Landry family, I thought, you know what that's got to be.... To not know has got to be a whole lot worse," Shellman said. "So I just was drawn to help this family."
Wednesday's news is just more motivation to continue the work, according to Shellman. "So we're just doing what we can to keep Jason's name out there and keep the public aware that he is still missing," she said.
Shellman had previously helped get two large banners with Jason's face put up in Luling where he disappeared in December 2020. Those banners have since been taken down and Shellman tells FOX 7 Austin she is having them made into tote bags with the hope of selling them to supporters of the Landry family and using the funds to put up more billboards.
Jason is still missing and about to miss another milestone as Friday, July 29, is his 23rd birthday. "Words can't describe what it's like on these days… Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays. They're not the same," said Kent Landry.
DISAPPEARANCE OF TEXAS STATE STUDENT 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."