Luz Cuevas was so convinced the young girl was her daughter Delimar Vera she called her over claiming she had bubblegum in her hair so she could take a strand for DNA testing.
The mum had never believed her ten-day-old baby was killed in the blaze at her home in Philadelphia in 1997.
The tot had been sleeping in the upstairs front bedroom when a fire broke out but the cot was empty when Luz ran into the room.
Luz suffered burns on her face before becoming overcome by smoke and screamed at firefighters that her baby was stolen.
But her fears were dismissed as “nerves” – with cops concluding the baby’s remains had been incinterated in the flames.
Six years later, Luz was at a party when she saw a dark-haired girl called Aaliyah with unmistakable dimples.
Luz used a cop trick she learnt on TV and offered to fix the girl’s hair for her – quickly pulling out several strands to send for testing.
Tests proved her mother’s instinct was right and the girl was the baby she was told had perished in the house fire.
Chillingly, Delimar Vera had been kidnapped by Luz’s cousin by marriage, Carolyn Correa, who set the fire to cover her tracks.
Correa is understood to have taken the child to live with her in New Jersey – raising her as her own.
She was charged with kidnapping, arson, assault, concealing the whereabouts of a child and interfering with the custody of a child and has now been jailed for between nine and 30 years.
Delimar said she is “happy” to be back at her “real home” with Luz.