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‘Tell Us Something’: Frustrated Family Of Missing Buffalo University Student Beg Police For Answers

Saniyya Dennis was last seen exiting a campus residence hall late on the night of April 24 and her phone pinged off a cell tower near Niagara Falls State Park hours later, according to authorities.

By Dorian Geiger
NY College Student’s Disappearance Baffles Police, Family

The family of a missing upstate New York college student is demanding answers after few clues have surfaced regarding her whereabouts roughly a week after her disappearance.

Saniyya Dennis, 19, vanished from Buffalo State University on April 24. She was last seen exiting a residence hall on the upstate New York campus around 11 p.m., according to the school’s police department. Authorities suspect she may be in the Buffalo area, elsewhere in west New York, or could have traveled to Yonkers. Dennis may be in need of  “medical attention,” police said. Foul play isn’t suspected in her disappearance.

On Friday, the teenager’s family publicly questioned local officials' efforts. 

"Why does it take so long to get subpoenas to cell phone records?" Calvin Byrd, Dennis' father, said during a press conference last week, ABC News reported. “Why does it take so long to get video footage of buses? If this was somebody else's kid, I think it [wouldn’t have] happened like this.”

Saniyya Dennis Buff State 1

Dennis’ parents told local media their daughter may have boarded a bus to Niagara Park, according to information they received from her friends. Police acknowledged they’d obtained surveillance footage from a bus depot of the 19-year-old and also received Dennis’ cell phone records on April 27. However, officials didn’t immediately disclose what the CCTV recording shows. 

Dennis' cell phone off a cell tower near Niagara Falls State Park at around 1:23 a.m. on April 25, hours after she was last seen, ABC News reported, citing officials.

Authorities blamed the stalled search for Dennis on high winds and bad weather.

“Our one and only goal in this investigation is to locate Saniyya and reconnect her with her family,” Peter Carey, chief of University Police said in a statement. “Understandably, emotions are high right now, but I want to be clear that our department will not rest until Saniyya is found. Buffalo State remains in close consultation with and is supporting the Dennis family."

A number of state and federal agencies are assisting on the investigation, including the New York State Police and the U.S. Secret Service.

“I understand the desire for new details about this case is high, but to ensure the integrity of this multi-agency investigation, we are limited in our ability to share further information at this time,” Carey added.

Dennis is a sophomore student at Buffalo State University where she’s majoring in Mechanical Engineering Technology, a spokesperson for the school told Oxygen.com on Monday. 

Dennis, who is Black, is five feet and three inches tall, has black hair, and brown eyes and weighs approximately 125 pounds. She is from the Bronx, according to law enforcement.

"We want to make sure that her face is everywhere," Julia Stevens, an activist who has helped organized search and rescue teams for Dennis, told WKBW. "That everywhere you go in Niagara Falls you know to look out for this girl ... it's important for the community to get together especially for a young Black woman."

University police declined to comment further on the pending investigation this week. 

Anybody information related to the case is urged to call the Buffalo State’s University Police Department at 716-878-6333. The public can also contact the university police’s anonymous tip line at 716-878-3166 and can email police@buffalostate.edu, as well.