The Search for Saniyya Dennis: “THIS IS A YOUNG SCHOLAR WITH A FUTURE AS BRIGHT AS THE SUN…”

-Kahlil Abdus-Shahid

Saniyya Dennis’ Family is here from New York City and they are doing everything humanly possible to make sure   their beloved daughter, who has been missing for  nearly two weeks, is found safe and returned to them.

We’re all devastated,” Khalil Abdus-Shahid said last Friday during a press conference outside Rockwell Hall in  reference to his niece, 19-year-old Buffalo State  College student Saniyya Dennis. 

“This is a young scholar with a future as bright as the sun  and we’re all suffering because she’s gone missing.”

Missing 19 Year old Saniyya Dennis

Although he  and other members of the family  expressed gratitude  for the  support they  have received thus far,  a recurring  sentiment was simply that the pace of the investigation was too slow, and as Bro. Khalil expressed   “ they’re not doing enough.”

He said  at the time the family’s feeling was that there should have been more of a  joint effort among government and city officials. 

The media event  was arranged  by activist and Erie County sheriff’s candidate Myles Carter for the family who traveled here from New York City to find their beloved daughter, sister and niece. She was last seen  leaving her dorm room in Bishop Hall around 10:30 p.m. on April  24. She has not been seen  or heard from since. 

A $10,000 reward has been posted for Saniyya’s  safe return.

“We are not  happy with the response time and what’s going on with this particular matter,” expressed Saniyya’s father Calvin Alan  Byrd. “I’m putting up the reward with my own money. Anybody   that has a tip, any tip that connects, we’re  here  in Buffalo to find answers…”

Saniyya’s Sister Keyora
Dennis.

Saniyya’s older sister, Keyora Dennis, who urged the public to  come forth with any information they may have,  spoke about her younger sibling’s accomplishments: a high achieving  honor student who  never missed class; who worked two jobs and never missed work; enjoyed close family ties especially with her mother; recently selected out of over 200 students to be a work study student for Project Flight; a Mechanical Engineering major who wanted to pursue a career as an astronaut.; a loving sister, daughter, friend and  aunt.

“Saniyya  being missing this  long is very uncharacteristic. It’s just something she would not do. My family is deeply saddened. We just want my sister home safe and sound.”

Latisha Dennis, Saniyya’s mother, was clearly drained. Her daughter was missing and  she had  few words except to say that she wanted her daughter to come home. She pleaded with anybody who may have   seen, may have heard from or talked to Saniyya  to please  to call 1-800-346-3543.  

   The press conference was called by Carter and supporters six days after Saniyya went missing  to bring awareness to her disappearance. A boots-on-the-ground search team  has been organized by Julia Stevens  and flyers posted throughout the area.

 “The community and I are doing as much as we can to bring  Saniyya home to her family,” said Carter .

“We’re to connect this to other issues in Buffalo  because we have a track record    of young Black women going missing and they don’t’ get the proper investigations from the police and the  attention that is necessary to bring these women home, these  young ladies, these girls home to their families.”

He was also critical of the college’s initial response, which he called “inadequate.”

During the press conference the initial time line  of Saniyya’s disappearance was  discussed:

• Saniyya, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, who weighs approximately 125 pounds, with  black hair and brown eyes was  last seen wearing a black hoodie and hat leaving from her Bishop dorm at Buffalo State College  on an elevator and then walking towards Elmwood Avenue around 10:30 pm. There was a man on the elevator as  seen on the footage. The family  says police did not  interviewed the man until they asked them to do so.

•It is believed that she may have caught the Elmwood bus downtown and then the  #40 bus to Niagara Falls.

•The last time the family heard from her was at  12:20 a.m. Sunday (4/25)  when she texed her mother and told her she would give her a call  in the morning. She never called. The family called the college and asked for a welfare check on Saniyya  twice Sunday evening after not hearing from her all day.

•It wasn’t until six days later that a  news  conference was called.

•The last ping from her cell phone was at 1:15am (4/25) near Goat Island in Niagara Falls

• No transactions have been made on any of her financial accounts,.

•Search efforts  in and around the park are   on going. Every day at noon and 6:00 p.m. a group meets up to look around the park, and they’re inviting anyone who wants to help to join them.

•Earlier this week Saniyya’s father issued a plea  to businesses on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls, asking them to submit any surveillance footage they may have.  As reported by Chanel 7 Eyewitness News he said    he’s seen surveillance video that police believe is his daughter walking in Niagara Falls. She was alone. Pray for Saniyya’s safe return.

-Staff Reporter