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DA's Office: Missing Buffalo State student Saniyya Dennis presumed to have taken her own life

Posted at 9:10 AM, May 06, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Missing Buffalo State College student Saniyya Dennis is presumed to have taken her own life, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn reported in a news conference Thursday morning.

Dennis, 19, has been missing since April 24. Her cell phone last pinged on Goat Island in Niagara Falls around 1:23 a.m. April 25.

Police, loved ones and volunteers have spent the past 11 days searching for the sophomore honors student from The Bronx. The Erie County District Attorney's Office partnered with University Police at Buffalo State this week to lead the search for Dennis. Her family met with the DA Wednesday night.

Flynn detailed the steps of the investigation during his news conference, you can find those details below.

Saturday, April 24
12:00 p.m. - Saniyya Dennis gets into an argument with her boyfriend who lives in the NYC area - ruled out as suspect - calling/texting one another - and at the end of conversation he breaks up with her.
12:36 p.m. - Saniyya calls a male friend, also near the NYC area, about the break up. She calls her now ex-boyfriend 59 times there after. Texts continue but no actual conversation is had. In the texts to her ex-boyfriend "I’m not feeling good, I think I’m going to kill myself," no response. She says "I’m so done with my own life I’ve had enough."
2:15 to 2:27 p.m. - Seven more calls made to ex-boyfriend.
2:39 p.m. - Saniyya talks to male friend in NYC area - she talks about suicide according to DA. She recently had some mental health issues, says DA. When they're on the phone, she states that she's feeling better and that she had reconsidered taking her own life. At this point the male friend believes her.
10:07 p.m. - Phone call with male friend in NYC comes to an end.
11:02 p.m. - Saniyya is seen on camera in the elevator.
11:03 p.m. - Saniyya is seen exiting the dorm.
11:04 p.m. - Saniyya walks to a garbage can and throws away personal items. The DA says she threw away things that would lead someone to believe she was not returning to the dorm.
11:12 p.m. - Saniyya swipes her bus card onto NFTA bus 32 going toward Black Rock. She sat alone and exited alone.
11:40 p.m. - Saniyya swipes her bus card onto NFTA bus 40 going toward Niagara Falls. She sat alone.

Sunday, April 25
12:07 a.m. - Saniyya exits bus 40 at First and Rainbow in Niagara Falls.
12:10 a.m. - Saniyya texts her mother and says she loves her and she will call her tomorrow.
12:15 a.m. - Saniyya texts her male friend thanking him for his time but saying "I'm sorry I lied. I will not be joining you this summer, at least physically. Thank you for making my day special." Minutes later, Niagara Falls State Park cameras show she’s walking toward Goat Island.
12:17 a.m. - Saniyya is picked up on camera in the park.
12:18 a.m. - She receives a text from her male friend in the NYC area.
12:19 a.m. - Saniyya is last seen by Niagara Falls State Park cameras on the bridge. She speaks on the phone with her male friend for about 45 minutes. The DA says she told him she took a bus to an island and was going to jump off a bridge but told him she had reconsidered, she ended the phone call.
1:00 a.m. - Saniyya takes Snapchat photo near the Tesla monument.
1:05 a.m. - Saniyya sends a text to her male friend in the NYC area, he asks for her location but she doesn’t respond and says she's on the bus. The DA says that is not true because her phone was pinged at the Tesla monument.
1:20 a.m. - Saniyya sends a text to her male friend in the NYC area, she says she's on the bus going home. Her friend says he's relieved, but the DA says her phone was pinged at the park.
1:21 a.m. - Saniyya texts her male friend in NYC area saying she talked to her mom, her and her mom were crying and having a conversation, but DA says phone records show that is not true.
1:22 a.m. - Saniyya sends another text to her male friend saying she will let him know when she gets off the bus, the last outgoing message from her phone which the DA says came from Goat Island.
1:23 a.m. - Saniyya's phone leaves the cell network, it was either powered off or destroyed and has not powered back on since.
1:45 a.m. to 2:27 a.m. - Friends tried to call Saniyya with no response.

Flynn says the male friend didn't initially report this to anyone. Saniyya's family was unable to contact her Sunday and notified Buffalo State on Monday which is when the investigation began.

Buffalo State contacted NYS Park Police after determining she may have been on Goat Island. Law enforcement has been searching for her multiple times each day since. Every business around the park area has been asked for footage, officials have not gotten any information form it.

Friday. April 30
K9 teams deployed to Goat Island after picking up Saniyya's scent from clothes in her dorm room. The dogs tracked the scent to the area of Luna Island where the DA says the dogs went over a railing onto a grassy area near the water and wanted to jump in the water.

Searches have continued each day since and Flynn says they will continue until she is found. The FBI interviewed her ex-boyfriend and NYPD interviewed her male friend.

Flynn said it is presumed Saniyya took her own life but, “I can’t definitively say that at all. All I can do is present you with what I have."

New York Parks Police released a statement Wednesday:

"Since April 27, the New York State Park Police, in coordination with State Police, U.S. Border Patrol, Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, Ontario Canada Park Police and Buffalo State University Police, have conducted repeated foot searches of Niagara Falls State Park and Niagara River Lower Gorge for a missing Buffalo State University student.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Services (local) 716-834-3131