Speaking to ITV's Tonight, Christine Sharp, Tia's grandmother, said she wanted to believe Tia was coming home even after police found a body.
As the Judge passed sentence at the Old Bailey, Steven Carter put his head in his hand and was comforted by his partner.
I am very pleased at today's sentence. A minimum of 38 years is satisfying for both the investigating team and Tia's friends and family. Hazell will have a very long time in prison to think about what he has done.
As some of Tia's relatives left court, they shouted "Nowhere near long enough" and "RIP Tia". They had listened to the Judge summing up the case, in which it emerged Stuart Hazell had developed a sexual interest in Tia.
It is an aggravating feature that your victim was so young. So too is your abuse of trust. Tia's mother allowed her to come and stay with you because she trusted you to look after her.
By first sexually assaulting and then killing Tia you betrayed that trust in the most grievous way possible. And that breach of trust reverberates still.
There were sobs and a shout of 'beast' from the public gallery as Hazell was sentenced. Tia's grandmother Christine Bicknell could be seen crying and hugging a relative.
All that lay ahead of her [Tia] - a career, loves and family of her own - will now never be. And the loss of her has been devastating for her mother, her father and all her relatives and friends.
The tragedy of their loss and her death is because of your act in murdering Tia Sharp. You are responsible.
It was very likely that Stuart Hazell smothered Tia Sharp, the 12-year-old schoolgirl that he admits killing, said Mr Justice Nichol as he was sentencing him.
He said that she was "a sparky girl, full of life" who idolised Hazell and he had taken her life.
The Judge said that it was a terrible crime against a very young girl but he did not accept that sexual motivation had been proved beyond doubt. There was no doubt that he had sexual conduct of some kind with Tia and it could have been "shame and fear" that made him kill her.
He was given life with 38 years minimum.
A Judge at the Old Bailey has told Stuart Hazell he will have to spend at least 38 years in jail as he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Tia Sharp.
Arriving at court this morning Tia Sharp's family said they wanted to see justice being served when the Judge passes sentence.