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HICKORY, N.C. --Zahra Baker's stepbrother made his first public statementsWednesday to a crowd of reporters at a candlelight vigil for his missing stepsister.

Douglas Proctor, the 22-year-old son of Elisa Baker, would not answer questions about charges against his mother, the ongoing homicide investigation, or allegations that Elisa Baker abused Zahra.

I can't really comment right now what's going on because I am still learning everything and it's a private matter right now between myself and my family, he said. To all the people who helped us come out and look the other day, to all the messages that we've received, all the phone calls -- it's not gone unnoticed.

He also thanked law enforcement officers investigating the case. I just want everyone to know that we really appreciate everything and that we're not going to stop looking for Zahra. We'll go as long as it takes.

On Zahra, he said, I think it would make her happy to see all this, but with that in mind, until anything changes, or we get any more facts, I am not really going to make any more statements.

Proctor personally thanked the pastor of East Hickory Baptist Church where about 300 people gathered on the lawn to pray for Zahra Baker Wednesday evening.

Most people who attended -- many with children -- said they were strangers who'd been touched by the news of her disappearance.

She lost a leg to cancer. She survived cancer twice, explained a tearful Teresa Brittain, who said she is currently having chemotherapy for cancer. She was 10 years old. She had her life ahead of her, and we don't even know if it's taken away from her.

Debbie Fogle, whose son was murdered, urged the community to stand-in for Zahra's parents as this investigation unfolds. This case is different. So I think as a community we need to rally around the child.

Lindsey Parker, a friend of Elisa Baker's biological daughter Brittany, took the microphone to tell the crowd that Brittany had often fought with her mother over Zahra. She and other friends said the Department of Social Services was contacted.

She was -- she is -- an absolutely beautiful child. And we don't know anything until she's found or she's found safe, and I pray that she's found safe, said another friend, Milly Humphrey.

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