Missing for over a week, family and friends continue to search for 19-year-old Buffalo State student Saniyya Dennis. A college sophomore, Dennis was last seen leaving her dorm on April 24 according to local news.
Saniyya’s sister Keyora said she texted their mother saying she would call her the next day. But the call never came.
Officials say Saniyya’s phone pinged a cell tower in the Goat Island area in Niagara Falls a few hours after she reportedly left campus. Volunteer search teams have searched Goat Island with the help of police helicopters and dogs.
“We felt that it was important to get the community to band together especially for a young black woman and say that we need to find her,” Julia Stevens of Allies for Black Justice told the local NBC affiliate.
Reports indicate people from across the Western New York region have joined the daily searches. Stevens and other volunteers hand out fliers making sure everyone knows about Saniyya.
Several users across social media platforms, including Saniyya’s father Calvin Byrd, posted updates and encouraged anyone with information to come forward.
Byrd, a former rapper with Dipset, offered a $10,000 reward for helpful information to lead to his daughter. Speaking with the Buffalo NBC affiliate, Byrd asked anyone contacting him to “please be respectful, please be real, be respectful.”
He has also questioned law enforcement’s sense of urgency in finding his daughter. Officials acknowledge having video footage of Saniyya near a bus terminal but refuse to release it despite requests from media and the family.
Hannah Buehler, a reporter with the local ABC affiliate, tweeted that a source told her the video showed Saniyya taking two buses. The first leaving the Buffalo State campus and the second heading to Niagara Falls.
Originally from the Bronx, Keyora described Saniyaa as a very hardworking student who also held down two jobs. An honor student, Saniyya is a mechanical engineering technology major.
Her sister told local news that Saniyya was not the type to just disappear and that she always tried to communicate as much as possible.
While authorities have limited public updates “to ensure the integrity of this multi-agency investigation”, Peter Carey of the University Police Department assured the public his department would not rest until Saniyya is found.
Katherine Conway-Turner, president of Buffalo State College, thanked community members for their efforts. Conway-Turner assured the community that police were “working tirelessly,” to find Saniyya. She asked that everyone continue to share Saniyya’s story and if anyone has information to contact law enforcement.
Stevens and other volunteers say they will not rest until Saniyya is home safe. “We want to give equal effort out in the community in case she is out there disoriented and confused,” Stevens told local news. “People will recognize her face and know immediately that this girl is missing and in danger.”
Anyone with information about Saniyya Dennis is encouraged to call or email the University Police Department at (716) 878-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. University police also have an anonymous tip line at (716) 878-3166.