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Zahra lives on in a memorial

For the first time on Friday Emily Dietrich peered over the woods off Christy Road in this tiny Caldwell County town, where some of the remains of her daughter, Zahra Baker, were found in November.

The mother stood alone in silence, in front of a wooden memorial shelter that was built for her daughter.

Priscilla and Jake Icenhouer built the memorial following the discovery of Zahra's prosthetic leg and bone remains on their property. The open-air building was made of wooden beams and topped with a metal roof to shield memorabilia from the elements.

Zahra's mother and the Icenhouers had never met - until Friday.

It was the day after a judge imposed a sentence of 15-18 years in prison on Elisa Baker, Zahra's stepmother, in connection with her death. Zahra was living with her father, Adam, and Elisa Baker when she disappeared last October.

Jake Icenhouer picked Dietrich up in a hug as she got out of a white SUV, accompanied by her mother, Joy Box. The two exchanged kisses on the cheek and tears as they stood embracing each other as new friends.

"This is just time for us," Dietrich said to media members as she hugged Jake Icenhouer.

"I'm going to get on Facebook and just brag that I met you," she told him.

Dietrich suffered post-natal depression following Zahra's birth and decided to give the child to her father, Adam Baker, according to press reports last year. She had not seen her daughter in 10 years, but says that she began looking for her days before Zahra disappeared.

Jake Icenhouer and Dietrich have been in touch through Facebook since the case began.

After meeting the Icenhouers, Dietrich spent time taking photos of the memorial and viewing gifts left by community members.

"I hope she gets that we are a community of love and she can carry back that love with her," said Barbara Smith, 45, who helped with the memorial. "When my children and I pass by here, we stop and say a prayer."

Jake Icenhouer also took the time to show Dietrich where Zahra's prosthetic leg was found, just behind the memorial structure and a road access gate.

"(Jake) has been head-strong about doing this memorial from day one," Priscilla Icenhouer said.

"I hope (Dietrich) gets some closure with this," Jake said.

Stuffed animals, flower arrangements and wreathes were scattered under the structure, with American and Australian flags anchored to the side posts. Under the flags stood a sign displaying this scripture: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

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