A delay at an out-of-state laboratory means it could be another six weeks before Hayward police receive the results of a test on a bone fragment that could belong to missing Hayward girl Michaela Garecht, who vanished in 1988, police said Thursday.

The 3-inch bone fragment was unearthed with other remains earlier this year in a San Joaquin County well. The fragment was sent to an Arizona DNA lab for testing and then was scheduled to go on to a Virginia lab for further analysis. But there was a hold up of some sorts, Michaela's mother, Sharon Murch said, and the bone is still in Arizona.

The nature of the delay was not immediately available from authorities Thursday; Murch also declined to specify the delay.

For now Murch, of Castro Valley, waits.

"If it turns out to not be Michaela, it would probably be nice to know that sooner rather than later," she said. "Either answer will be difficult in different ways. If it does turn out to be Michaela, I have a lot of trepidation as to what that will be like."

The delay means she will hold the annual gathering on the anniversary of Michaela's kidnapping. People will gather about 10:15 a.m. Nov. 19 in front of the market where the 9-year-old girl was kidnapped 24 years ago. At the time, the store was the Rainbow Market. It is now called Mexico Super.

"Perhaps it will be the last gathering of this sort. Perhaps it won't," Murch wrote on her blog, www.dearmichaela.com.

The discovery of the bone fragment came after the remains of murder victim JoAnn Hobson were excavated from the Linden well, believed to hold the victims of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," in February. Hobson's remains were returned to her family for burial, but her mother sent them to the Human Identification Laboratory at Cal State Chico for testing. There, investigators determined that Hobson's remains had been mixed up with possibly two to four others.

Police contacted Murch on Oct. 8 about the commingling and told her they were testing the fragment.

The age of the victim the fragment was determined to belong to -- a girl between the ages of 5 and 13 -- and the time period it was believed to be from were the only two clues linking the bone to Michaela's disappearance, police have said.

Murch said she isn't angry about the delay, saying Hayward police have been "very caring and respectful ... going above and beyond to do the best job possible."

"I really appreciate the time to get my head in order and get my life in order rather than just have it thrown on me. I'm being patient," Murch said. "I'm afraid of the answer so it might be easier to wait for the answer than to actually get the answer."

Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.