Howdy! This week I want to raise awareness of the missing status of a young man who disappeared just south of Austin, near Luling Texas. Jason Landry was reported missing on 12/14/2020 when his damaged vehicle was found abandoned, with his phone on, wedged between the seat and center console, and his clothes scattered on the ground.
Background: Jason Landry, aged 21 when he disappeared, was a student at Texas State University. He’d only moved to San Marcos to pursue an education in sound recording a few months prior. The university was enforcing coronavirus restrictions, though Jason’s father reports Jason was enjoying himself there. On 12/13/2020, Jason left his San Marco's apartment, for Missouri City, where he planned to spend winter break at his parents’ house. Because he rarely made that trip, he used the Waze app for directions. His parents were not expecting him.
Timeline of events:
10:55pm: Jason Landry left his San Marcos apartment in his tan Nissan Altima, and using the Waze app (which is similar to Google Maps but with a greater focus on avoiding traffic), followed directions heading for his parents’ Missouri City address.
11:05pm: Driving along Texas 80, Jason passed beneath Interstate 35 in San Marcos. He drove south on Texas 80 into Caldwell County.
11:07pm: Driving south along Texas 80, Jason entered Caldwell County.
11:11pm: Driving south along Texas 80, Jason passed through Martindale.
11:15pm: Driving south along Texas 80, Jason passed Texas 130, then through Fentress, Prairie Lea and Stairtown.
11:24pm: Approximately a half-hour into his drive, Jason reached Luling on Texas 80. Upon reaching the intersection of Hackberry Street, where Texas 80 becomes Austin Street, he switched from using Waze to using Snapchat (a social media photo & video sharing app). He drove along Austin Street to Magnolia Avenue, where his digital footprint cut out. Authorities believe that instead of turning right on Magnolia, he drove straight through the intersection on East Austin Street to Spruce Street, which becomes Salt Flat Road.
12:31am: A volunteer firefighter spotted Jason’s vehicle by 2365 Salt Flat Road, which was visibly damaged from a crash, and abandoned. The lights were on, keys still in the ignition, and the front passenger’s side door locked. The car was not drivable after the crash, as one wheel was damaged. This is a very rural area of dirt roads, wells, bodies of water, oil rigs, and few homes. Jason would have had to have taken a wrong turn or had an alternative destination in mind, other than his parents' house, given where his vehicle was located. It was later stated that the volunteer firefighter also reported clothing, in the road, to Texas Department of Public Transportation. There is an oil field nearby. Much of that area is lined in barbed wire fences that would be "difficult to climb."
There is a house at 2379 Salt Flat Road, which is within walking distance of where Jason crashed. Police stated, while filming the crash site, that it is abandoned. They investigated the house that night, as well as the barn on property, by peering through the windows with a flashlight, after an officer cited seeing a shirt hanging inside, when he peeked through an uncovered window en route to the crash scene. The last time police were called to that address was in May of 2016 for a welfare concern.
1:30am: A Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper, Cristobal Flores, arrived. They found no evidence another vehicle was involved in the crash. Without entering the vehicle, they had it towed. DPS initially did not investigate the clothing reported by the volunteer fireman. It was later revealed Cristobel Flores identified a backpack on the scene and confiscated the drugs from it, leaving the bag and other debris on site.
2:00am: Kent Landry, Jason’s father, who the vehicle was registered with, received a call from police regarding the vehicle.
5:30am: Kent Landry arrived at the tow lot, which was closed. When he was allowed to inspect the vehicle, he found Jason’s phone between the central console and the seat. Kent claimed the phone and left to inspect the crash site. Kent saw deer and coyotes in the area.
6:00am: Kent arrived on the scene of the crash. Jason’s clothing was located strewn across the road 100 ft from the crash. The clothing consisted of underwear, a red T-shirt with a white and yellow design, shorts, socks, slide sandals, and a watch. The barbed wire fences and gravel road would have been especially difficult to navigate barefoot and naked. While officials later stated their is no evidence Jason undressed under duress, it was between 36-43 degrees Fahrenheit around the time of the crash, but with windchill, was closer to 24 degrees Fahrenheit. There was blood on the left hip of his shorts but not enough to indicate a serious injury. Jason’s backpack was located 800ft from the crash, north of the clothing. In his backpack was his wallet, a laptop, video games, and a small amount of marijuana. A dark colored baseball hat, plastic bag of toiletries, dead beta fish in a tumbler, were also found nearby.
Later that day: Jason was officially declared missing. Texas Search and Rescue, a non-profit group, took over the hunt for Jason, with the help of Texas EquuSearch, a horseback based search group.
Authorities announced they didn't believe alcohol nor fowl play was a factor in the crash.
There was no blood found in the vehicle.
Kent, Jason's father, admits Jason's car is an older model and was not equipped with airbags, making a concussion very likely. Texas Search and Rescue, Department of Emergency Management, Luling Police Department, Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Parks and Wildfire, Weimer Police Department and a couple of officers from Texas State assisted The Texas Department of Public Safety with searches.
Sgt. Deon Cockrell reported that, "The car got off the road and spun around, and the back driver-side trunk, bumper and the side of the car took most of the impact." Helicopter scouts and drones have begun searching for Jason, alongside ground searches on ATV's and horse back. A local pond was in the process of being drained, as part of their efforts.
The Texas Department of Public Safety gave the case to the Caldwell Public Sheriff’s Office.
Texas EquuSearch suspended their nine day search, citing a lack of new information with which to continue.
Investigators received Jason's phone data.
By this date, it is believed Jason's crash was caused by "over-correcting on the gravel road, spinning off the roadway and crashing the rear-end into a tree." Officials later added that, "the rear driver’s side corner initially made contact with a tree on the east side of the roadway, forcing the front driver’s side into another tree and the post of a barbed wire fence. The rear window of the vehicle was broken as a result of the impact."
Investigators announced they were focused on the 67 minute window between Jason's reaching Magnolia lane and the discovery of the crash site, a gap in Jason's digital footprint, despite the area having service, and the phone being on when it was located.
Hundreds of hours of video was viewed from local security cameras but nothing of use was found.
Investigators were waiting on social media search warrants to be returned.
Texas Search and Rescue, having already dedicated over 1,300 hours, with 150+ volunteers, and covered 3,500+ acres to the search for Jason, began a 3-day concentrated effort. With 100+ volunteers, and the help of cadaver dogs, they covered 31,000+ acres on foot. This hunt was aided by riders on horseback, drones, side-scan sonar, water searches, and helicopter scouts. This search took place a little over a week after an ice storm knocked out much of the Texas infrastructure, leaving approximately 246 Texas dead. This was done with the assistance of Caldwell County Sherriff's department.
Investigators discussed applying for a geofence warrant to see what cell phones were documented near Jason's vehicle leading up to the crash and his disappearance. This came after receiving access to Jason's phone and computer data, while still waiting on social media agencies to cooperate and supply their data. In order to receive a geofence warrant, there must be evidence of a crime.
A $10,000 reward was announced for information leading to the location of Jason, valid until 08/01/2021.
Using drone technology, computers delved through footage of thousands of acres, spotting 86 small areas of white, that could be bone fragments. The plan was to manually investigate each area of bones to see if they were human. Groups of maggots were also investigated first by drone, and then manually. No human bodies were found.
Continued searches by Texas Search and Rescue located bones that were determined not to belong to Jason Landry. There were areas investigators planned to, but were unable to search, as they were under water.
Jason's parents enlisted the help of Private Investigator Abel Peña to find Jason. Abel Peña is a former FBI agent, and he is working the case Pro Bono, alongside his nonprofit team, Project Absentis. Without sharing evidence with the media, Abel Peña stated that after numerous interviews, he did not believe Jason was alone at the time of the crash. Abel added that he was hopeful that with circumstantial evidence, he could successfully apply for the geofence warrant that has thus far been denied by the Caldwell County Sheriff's Department.
Kent, Jason's father, shared with reporters that the FBI was opening a new cold case division and he had hopes they'd take us Jason's case.
Investigators, after having searched through thousands of bone fragments, and maggots groupings, in their any searches for Jason, looked to hogs and otters. The leading theory was (and is) that Jason sustained a concussion from the crash, due in part to the lack of airbags. Then, either due to the head injury, the cold, or unknown narcotics in his system, he voluntarily stripped (paradoxical undressing is a symptom of hypothermia, though internal bleeding could also cause this reaction), wandered out into the wilderness, and died. At which point, he was likely eaten by wild animals.
Another theory is that Jason climbed inside an oil tank and died.
Detective Jeff Ferry admitted there remained a body of water only partially searched, despite having been alerted on by cadaver dogs, because the area is dotted with oil rigs, which impede on their efforts. He added that the search isn't over, but that it would take years to check those ponds and rigs.
New footage was released. Jason's unnamed friend recorded Jason earlier the day he disappeared because Jason was high and the friend assumed Jason wouldn't remember their conversation later. That recording does not have audio. According to the friend, Jason rambled about how experimenting with psychedelics opened his mind. He talked about spiritual enlightenment. In the video, Jason is rolling a usable amount of blunts. The friend says Jason was coming to Missouri City to hang out, play video games, and get high with him. Jason is sweating in the video, which the Caldwell County Sheriff's department insists was due to drug use and was likely a factor in his stripping after the crash.
Police stated that among Jason's internet searches were questions about combining different marijuana strains, spiritual enlightenment practices, and how long someone could survive in the wilderness.
The footage Kent, Jason's father, took when he investigated the crash has been partially released. During the footage he is heard complaining that he was the only one who'd filmed the scene.
Curiously, the video of Jason rolling blunts while chatting with his friend, released on 01/11/2022, is currently estimated to have been filmed only an hour before he left for Missouri City. In that video, he's wearing a green shirt, not the red shirt previously shown in snapshots shared, that were taken from earlier footage of him from the day he went missing.
Oil rigs near where Jason disappeared are being emptied to help in the case, but being private property, without evidence of a crime, the process is happening at the owners' leisure and will take at least a year.
The, originally confidential, case files have been released.
Second page mentions that a coyote can skeletonize a body in 28 days, and within year, the bones can be thoroughly distanced. Also, the carnivore is likely to hide the body, either under natural debris or by burying it. The bones are likely to be located within 100, but sometimes as far as 300 meters from where the body first decomposed.
Page three mentions that a buried body, left to naturally decompose, would leak fluids into the soil, altering that space for years, in a manner that should appear on near-infrared cameras. Ultraviolet, on the other hand, is better for spotting bones which glow under that light.
Page four states that Jason opened Snapchat to check his messages.
Pages 8, and 13-22 show their search maps, if you want to download the pdf and read for yourself
PI Abel Peña, working with Project Absentis, has not been successful in obtaining a geofence warrant. To sign the petition in support of providing PI Abel Peña with the information requested, please click here and fill out this quick form.
I've seen it mentioned that the GPS might stop giving alerts when Snapchat is open. The accident occurred sometime after Jason made a wrong turn, assuming he was only heading to his parents' house, and wasn't planning to meet anyone in/near Luling. Trains cut through that area and it has been theorized that he turned off route when a train blocked his path, and that he planned to loop back but became lost. A theory on why he didn't call the police, after the accident, is that he was impaired, or because he was carrying marijuana. While the leading theory of the investigators—that Jason sustained a concussion from the crash, then, either due to the head injury, the cold, or unknown narcotics in his system, he voluntarily stripped, wandered out into the wilderness, and died. At which point, he was likely eaten by wild animals—is the simplest, it isn't proven.
Kent Landry was upset that Jason's internet searches were released on 01/12/2022 by the Caldwell County Sheriff's office, but honestly, those searches were tame. I doubt there's a millennial alive who hasn't looked into living in the woods, though I can't speak for Zoomers. It's obvious from the other footage released on that date that the police suspect Jason was under the influence when he disappeared. While that is possible, it hasn't been proven. PI Abel Peña strongly suspects that one or two others were in the car that night and we won't know the truth until the geofence warrant is granted and/or Jason is found.
When he was last seen, Jason weighed approximately 170lbs. He's about 6ft 1", with an olive complexion and brown eyes. He had medium-length brown hair, a goatee, and has a scar on his right ankle. If you, or someone you know, has information regarding Jason Landry's whereabouts, please call the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office at 512-398-6777, ext 4505 for Detective Jeff Ferry, email Detective Jeff Ferry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call PI Abel Peña at (726) 777-1359.