CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Tuesday marks two years since Texas State University student Jason Landry’s car was found crashed on a rural road near Luling and he was reported missing.
Tens of thousands of acres have been searched in the area since, but where Landry went that night remains a mystery. In the two years since, family, friends and loved ones have erected billboards seeking information about his disappearance, and the reward to help find him has been doubled to $20,000.
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 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, according to law enforcement.
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 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 like Texas Search and Rescue, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Highway Patrol, the Texas State Police Department and even locals 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 Southminister 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,” said Kent at that vigil. “How I am feeling is we are living the worst dream of every parent.”
Jan. 29, 2021: Cell phone data pinpoints Landry’s route
A couple weeks after Landry’s disappearance, investigators released more details about his possible route using cell phone data.
That data showed Landry left his San Marcos apartment at 10:55 p.m. on Dec. 13 for his journey home. Here’s a timeline of where his cell phone 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 his 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 instead 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,” said Ferry.
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 (CCSO) 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 how thick the brush is. That also makes it more difficult to spot any signs that Landry was nearby.
Adding to the difficulty of the search was recent weather, which caused flooding in many areas.
If you have any information about Landry’s disappearance, you can contact Captain 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.
Dec. 13, 2021: Phone data, privacy concerns at center of case
Cell phone data lies at the root of a professional disagreement between investigators working on Landry’s disappearance.
A petition that circulated online advocated for the use of a geofence warrant in Landry’s missing persons case. Geofencing, or geographical fencing, is a data tool that can be employed by law enforcement to help narrow in on potential witnesses in the vicinity of a crime by tapping into cellular data found in a set area around a crime scene.
Geofencing, however, requires a warrant in order to authorize its use, said Jeff Ferry, a captain specializing in criminal investigations at the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. The request for a warrant requires evidence related to the probable cause that a crime occurred.
At issue: Under Caldwell County officials’ current investigation, Ferry said the department has not received substantial evidence to suggest foul play occurred. But some other investigators looking into the case said they have received tips and interviewed subjects that might dispute that.
Jan. 16, 2022: Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office releases new evidence
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office released new information related to the case, including a call log, more than an hour’s worth of body camera footage from law enforcement, cell phone videos taken by Landry’s father and a screen-recorded FaceTime call depicting Landry. Jason’s father, Kent Landry, said the family was caught off guard and unaware anything was set to be released.
“I don’t know where some of that stuff came from,” Kent told KXAN in January 2022. “We haven’t seen some of those videos.”
Jason’s abandoned car was found totaled Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 near Luling. Evidence showed the 21 year old was in a crash near 2365 Salt Flat Road, and investigators believe he may have tried to overcorrect his turn on the gravel road, which led him to spin off the roadway.
An investigation revealed Jason was on his way to the Missouri City, Texas area to visit his parents, but the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said a volunteer firefighter in the area discovered his car and his belongings spread out across the road.
The only signs of Jason were his clothes on the road and a backpack with his personal things, along with some marijuana in a prescription bottle.
February 2022: Office of the Attorney General launches investigation
In February, the Office of the Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit launched an investigation into Landry’s disappearance, at the request of the Caldwell County District Attorney’s Office and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.
April 10, 2022: Family, friends set up billboard for Landry
Several Facebook groups dedicated to the search for Landry helped erect a missing persons billboard nearly a year and a half following his disappearance.
Supporters put up the billboard along U.S. Hwy. 183 at 2023 N. Magnolia Ave., north of Luling.
Organizers rented out the billboard for 13 weeks, using donations gathered via the Landry Facebook groups.
The billboard included two photos of Landry, a $10,000 reward offer along with the contact information for the Texas Attorney General Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, available for any potential case tips. Landry’s family approved the billboard design, organizers said.
July 27, 2022: NYPD says unconscious New York man not missing Texan Landry
NYPD posted about an unconscious person on Twitter, saying they were found July 22 just after 6:30 a.m. NYPD reported the person was found unconscious and unresponsive “in the streets with no apparent injuries.” They didn’t have an ID. People speculated online it may have been Jason Landry, but NYPD confirmed the unidentified man is from Yonkers, and his family was notified.
Nov. 21, 2022: Reward doubled to $20,000 to help find Landry
A GoFundMe was created to raise a $20,000 reward to help find missing Texas State student Jason Landry. The reward was originally set at $10,000 in May 2021 — five months after Landry’s disappearance.
With his disappearance approaching two years, the page said it was time to double the reward being offered to find him.
“We BELIEVE, and we HOPE that raising the reward will help provide incentive for that ONE PERSON who may KNOW SOMETHING to COME FORWARD with the information that leads to Jason’s whereabouts,” the GoFundMe said.
The page said the plan was to use the additional funds raised to continue the efforts in searching and spreading awareness.
Dec. 14, 2022: Office of the Attorney General provides update on cold case, missing persons unit investigation
The Office of the Attorney General provided an update Wednesday that supported the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office’s previous conclusions that Landry was involved in a single vehicle accident. This comes after the OAG’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit launched an investigation into Landry’s disappearance, at the request of the Caldwell County District Attorney’s Office and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.
The OAG’s review included analyzing “previously known credible information,” interviewing several witnesses and working with experts who specialize in digital forensics and accident reconstruction. The OAG also received a geofencing search warrant covering the area near where Landry’s car was found.
“Based upon this extensive review and the evidence known at this point, the OAG supports the conclusions previously stated by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office: Mr. Landry appears to have been involved in a single car accident and there is no evidence to suggest that another vehicle was involved,” the release read in part. “The search warrant yielded no activity near the crash site and did not provide any additional information.”
Reviews of Landry’s personal phone and social media records didn’t point to any plans to meet up with someone in Luling, “including the lack of credible information pertaining to the purchase or sale of narcotics.” Landry’s digital footprint showed him travel from his San Marcos apartment to the intersection of Magnolia and Austin streets in Luling, which was the last connection his navigation app Waze pinged him at just before 11:30 p.m. Dec. 13, 2020.
The OAG has turned over all his locational and cell phone data to an independent phone expert who will analyze the data for any elements not flagged. Searches conducted by Texas Railroad Commission investigators of oil tanks in the area found no irregularities at nearby reservoir tanks.
“The Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit considers this matter to be an ongoing and active investigation and continues to work diligently on the case,” the release concluded. “We encourage anyone who may have credible information to contact the Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.”