Saniyya Dennis, a SUNY Buffalo State College student from the Bronx who disappeared last month, died by apparent suicide, authorities said Thursday.
“It appears that this poor girl took her own life,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters at a news conference.
He said although officials have not located the body of the 19-year-old, they believe she took her own life following a timeline of her last hours before she went missing.
According to Flynn, Dennis, on the afternoon of April 24, got into an argument with her boyfriend in New York City over the phone. She called him about 59 times but he didn’t respond, Flynn said. Dennis then called another male friend in New York City and told him she wanted to kill herself, Flynn said.
The two talked for several hours before Dennis said she had thought it over and wouldn’t end her life. About 11 p.m. ET, Dennis was captured on campus surveillance video leaving her dorm at the SUNY Buffalo State College. She subsequently threw away “personal items that would lead someone to believe that she was not returning to the dorm,” Flynn said.
Video from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority then showed her riding two different buses heading toward Niagara Falls. She was alone. She was later picked up by cameras around midnight walking toward Goat Island, where her cell last pinged, Flynn said. The male friend, at around 12:18 a.m., sent her text that read, “Call me back or my next call is to Buffalo PD.”
The male friend called her. She answered and said that she was going to jump off a bridge, Flynn said. The two talked for about an hour before Dennis told him that she was on the bus going back home. Phone records show that was false, according to DA.
Her phone left the network at about 1:20 a.m. April 25. The DA said this means that it was either destroyed or turned off. On April 26, Dennis’s family members reported her missing to Buffalo State Police, leading to an investigation, Flynn said.
Search dogs found Dennis’ scent near Goat Island. Authorities now believe she went over the falls, with her body likely pinned on the rocks below. Flynn said authorities may never find her body because of the rocks below the area. “There is a possibility that if we believe what happened happened, we may never find her body,” he said. “That’s a possibility.”
Dennis’ parents were made aware of the findings on Wednesday afternoon, the DA said.
At a news conference last Friday, Dennis’s family members said they were “baffled as to what’s going on.”
“Saniyya worked two jobs. She was a mechanical engineer major. She was very focused on her studies,” Keyora, Dennis’s sister, said. “She was a good friend. A good person. She has a good heart.”