The father of "Baby Hope" is believed to be a suspect in the murder of the 3- to 5-year-old girl found dead in a picnic cooler near the Henry Hudson Parkway in 1991, according to published reports.

It is not clear why cops, who have acknowledged locating the girl's mother, haven't released the name of the father or even the name of "Baby Hope," who has languished for 22 years in a grave in the Bronx under a headstone paid for by detectives.

"It's an ongoing investigation: You can't put the carriage before the horse," said a police spokesman.

Sources told the Daily News that the mother has been discounted as a suspect, and that the woman never saw her daughter again after the father ran off with the girl and her sister in 1991.

The father eventually returned the victim's sister to the mother.

Pastor allegedly abused kids . . . Antisemitism charges . . . New animals at game farm Credit: Newsday

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Pastor allegedly abused kids . . . Antisemitism charges . . . New animals at game farm Credit: Newsday

Updated 15 minutes ago What to expect at RNC tonight . . . Alleged DWI driver in court . . . Explaining Nassau transgender athlete ban . . . New animals at game farm

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