DA: Missing Buff State student appears to have died of suicide

Regional News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thursday morning, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn provided an update on the disappearance of Buffalo State College student Saniyya Dennis.

Dennis, 19, was last seen leaving her dorm on April 24. In the middle of that day, Flynn says Dennis had been in an argument with her boyfriend that ended with him breaking up with her.

Dennis continued to attempt contacting him, and said she was going to kill herself.

Her boyfriend was in New York City the entire time, and is not considered a suspect in her disappearance.

Later that day, in another conversation with a male friend in New York City, she said she was planning to die by suicide, Flynn said.

That evening, Dennis and her friend stayed on the phone together for about four hours. In that conversation, she had said she was reconsidering what she said about suicide, and was feeling better than she was earlier.

About an hour after that phone conversation ended, Dennis threw personal items into a garbage can. Flynn did not say what those items were, but said they would make someone believe she wasn’t planning to return to her dorm.

This was around 11 p.m. Shortly after throwing those personal items away, her bus card was swiped at a nearby bus.

On the first bus, Flynn said Dennis was alone, but she eventually got onto another bus and got off at a stop near the Niagara Falls Visitor Center. Around Midnight, Dennis texted her mother, telling her she loves her and that she’ll call her the next day.

MORE | Family of missing Buffalo State student calls for community’s help, offers reward for student’s whereabouts

She also texted her friend, saying she wouldn’t see him this summer.

The last time Dennis was seen on video was around 12:17 a.m. She was seen on park cameras on the bridge along Goat Island Road.

As she was there, she received a text from a friend telling her to call him or else he’ll call police.

He then called her, and they spoke for about 45 minutes. In that conversation, Dennis said she was going to jump off a bridge.

Around 1 a.m., Dennis took a Snapchat selfie near the Nikola Tesla monument. Niagara Falls was in the background.

About 20 minutes after this, she texted a male friend, and said that she spoke with her mom and was on her way back to Buffalo. But that was not true, according to cell phone records.

Minutes after that, her cell phone left the cellular network, meaning it was either powered off or destroyed.

All of this information was provided to Dennis’ parents on Wednesday afternoon.

“It appears this poor girl took her own life,” Flynn says.

Multiple agencies have been involved in the search for Dennis, and the search will continue until she’s found. But Flynn says her body may not be able to be recovered.

You can watch DA Flynn’s full news conference below. Warning: The content may be triggering. Contact Crisis Services’ 24-hour hotline for support: 716-834-3131.

“Yesterday afternoon, members of my office met with the family of Saniyya Dennis to provide an update on the investigation into her disappearance. At this time, we believe that Saniyya traveled alone from the Buffalo State College campus by NFTA bus to Niagara Falls State Park where the evidence suggests that she took her own life during the early morning hours of Sunday, April 25, 2021. 

While the Erie County District Attorney’s Office does not typically become involved in missing person cases unless there is evidence of criminality, we assisted in this multi-agency effort to find Saniyya at the request of SUNY Buffalo State College University Police.

My office and our partners in law enforcement have found no evidence of any criminality in this case. All evidence indicates that Saniyya ended her own life, but the investigation into her disappearance will not be closed until she is found.

My thoughts and prayers remain with Saniyya’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Thank you to all who have assisted in the search to find Saniyya. I commend SUNY Buffalo State College, Buffalo State College University Police, New York State Park Police, Niagara Frontier Transit Authority Police, New York State Police, Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Police Department, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Niagara Regional Police, New York Police Department, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies who have dedicated their time and resources to this ongoing investigation.

I also want to thank the Buffalo State community, members of the media, and residents from Western New York and beyond who have participated in the search and shared information about her case.”

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn

Additional Resources

Buffalo State Counseling Center: (716) 878-4436

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): (716) 878-6699

Reach Out SUNY NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314

SUNY Crisis Text Line: Text GOT5U to 741-741

Crisis Services of Buffalo (24/7): (716) 834-3131

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), option 1

– Text: 838255

– Online: Click this link

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)

Spectrum Health & Human Services: (716) 710-5172

C.A.R.E.S. (for youth and family crises): (716) 882-4357

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