Image: Zahra Claire Baker
James Nix  /  AP
Zahra Clare Baker, 10, waits to get a hearing aid at an event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Authorities said Friday that investigators matched a bone found a couple of weeks ago with 10-year-old Zahra Baker's DNA. Zahra, who had bone cancer that forced her to use a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, was reported missing by her parents in October.
updated 11/14/2010 1:24:34 PM ET 2010-11-14T18:24:34

The biological mother of the disabled girl whose remains were found in North Carolina told a television station Sunday that she has been devastated by her daughter's death but buoyed by support from the community where the 10-year-old lived.

"Still hurt, still crushed," Emily Dietrich told the Australia-based Seven Network on Sunday. Dietrich lives in Australia — where her daughter, Zahra Baker, lived until her father moved to the U.S. — and is now in Hickory, N.C. That's the town where Zahra lived with her father and stepmother before she was reported missing more than a month ago.

"It didn't make a difference trying to prepare myself," Dietrich said. "It didn't make a difference to anybody. As hard as it was to hear the news they were telling me, it was just as hard to watch them cry while they told me and apologized to me. All they wanted was to find her and bring her back alive."

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Hickory police said Friday they found a bone that matches DNA from Zahra, whose cancer had forced her to use a prosthetic leg and hearing aids. It was found in an area near where the family lived until mid-September. Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, is jailed on unrelated charges.

Police say Elisa Baker led investigators to the bone and another area where police found remains they believe are Zahra's. No one has been charged in the girl's death.

Dietrich, from Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, said she is trying to keep positive thoughts about the girl's father, 33-year-old Adam Baker, who is free on bail after being arrested on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance.

"I have to take a step back and think of the possibility that maybe Adam wasn't involved and maybe he is hurting as well," Dietrich said.

Dietrich has said she suffered postnatal depression after Zahra's birth and handed over custody to Adam Baker. Later, though, she decided she wanted to be in the girl's life and spent years trying to track the pair.

"I can't explain the anger, the hurt," she said. "He had no right to do any of it, to keep her from me."

She said she discovered Zahra was living in the U.S. just three days before she was reported missing on Oct. 9.

She hadn't seen her daughter since Zahra was 8 months old. "I never got to say goodbye," she said. "I never even got to say hello."

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