A historic bank heist 52 years ago was investigated by two U.S. Marshals — who were father and son — but the bank robber evaded them until his passing. The decades-old cold case in Ohio has finally been solved, but only after the "most wanted" suspect passed away.
On Friday, July 11, 1969, a 20-year-old employee of Cleveland's Society National Bank stole $215,000, which is the modern equivalent to $1.7 million. The bank teller, Theodore "Ted" Conrad, "walked into his job ... [and] walked out at the end of the day with $215,000 in a paper bag and vanished," according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The heist was one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland history.
The bank didn't realize that it had been robbed until Monday. When Conrad didn't report to work, it tipped off police that he was the suspect.
Authorities would never track down Theodore Conrad to charge him with the bank robbery. However, law enforcement finally cracked the cold case on Friday — 52 years later.
The bank robber was previously featured on "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries." Investigators chased leads on Conrad's whereabouts around the country, including Washington D.C., Inglewood, California, western Texas, Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii. However, Conrad moved to a suburb of Boston and was living by the alias Thomas Randele.
He set up a new life in Massachusetts, marrying Kathy (Mahan) Randele, with whom he had a daughter. The bank robber became a local golf pro and sold luxury cars.
"He was a fixture in a small town," Cleveland.com reported. "The stolen money didn't last, as he had struggled financially in recent years, records show."
In a statement released on Friday, the U.S. Marshals revealed that Conrad was inspired by the "The Thomas Crown Affair" movie from 1968.
"A year before the Cleveland bank robbery, Conrad became obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film 'The Thomas Crown Affair,'" the statement read. "The movie was based on the bank robbery for sport by a millionaire businessman, and Conrad saw it more than a half dozen times. From there he bragged to his friends about how easy it would be to take money from the bank and even told them he planned to do so."
It is likely that Conrad was so obsessed with the movie that he changed his name to "Thomas," the same first name as McQueen's "Thomas Crown" character in the movie.
Conrad moved to a suburb of Boston, not far from where "The Thomas Crown Affair" movie was filmed. The film was one of the first movies almost entirely filmed around Boston.
The case went cold for decades until this year when Thomas Randele of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, died from lung cancer in May. U.S. Marshals were able to "match documents that Conrad completed in the 1960s with documents Randele completed, including documents from when Randele filed for Bankruptcy in Boston Federal Court in 2014."
For one U.S. Marshal, the infamous bank robbery haunted his family for decades. Peter J. Elliott — U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio — was on the hunt for Conrad, as was his father, who was also a Marshal.
"This is a case I know all too well," Elliott said. "My father, John K. Elliott, was a dedicated career Deputy United States Marshal in Cleveland from 1969 until his retirement in 1990. My father took an interest in this case early because Conrad lived and worked near us in the late 1960s."
"My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020," Elliott explained. "We were able to match some of the documents that my father uncovered from Conrad's college days in the 1960s with documents from Randele that led to his identification."
"I hope my father is resting a little easier today knowing his investigation and his United States Marshals Service brought closure to this decades-long mystery," he concluded. "Everything in real life doesn't always end like in the movies."
Conrad's widow said that her husband was a "great man."
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