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A western New York college student who vanished in April after an argument with her boyfriend died by suicide, police said on Thursday after an extensive investigation.
Saniyya Dennis vanished from SUNY Buffalo State College on April 24. The 19-year-old was seen exiting a campus residence hall around 11 p.m., the school’s police department said after her disappearance; she was later spotted on security footage near Niagara Falls.
"It appears that this poor girl took her own life," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters during a news conference on Thursday morning.
Authorities are continuing the search for Dennis’s body, they said, but are basing their conclusion on a timeline of events leading up to her disappearance.
On April 24, Dennis was involved in an argument over the phone with her boyfriend, who was in New York City. She'd attempted to contact him 59 times, Flynn said, before she called a friend in New York and discussed suicide. Dennis eventually told the friend that she’d reconsidered. Around 11 p.m., she was seen leaving her dorm room on campus surveillance video.
After that, she threw away "personal items that would lead someone to believe that she was not returning to the dorm," the DA told reporters on Thursday. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority video showed Dennis on two buses headed toward Niagara Falls, he said. Her phone last pinged near Goat Island, where she was last seen on security footage.
At some point after 12:18 p.m., Dennis’ friend phoned her and she told him that she was going to jump off of a bridge, Flynn said. The two spoke for an hour and Dennis told him she was on a bus back to campus, which was not true, according to surveillance footage.
Dennis’s cellphone left its network at about 1:20 a.m. April 25, according to investigators.
Last week, Dennis’s family publicly demanded answers as to why the investigation into her disappearance was taking so long. Authorities blamed the stalled search for Dennis on high winds and bad weather.
Dennis was a sophomore at Buffalo State, where she was majoring in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
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