A man who became one of America’s most wanted fugitives when he robbed an Ohio bank more than 50 years ago was finally identified by US Marshals — six months after he died, officials announced Friday.
Theodore John Conrad was 20 and working as a teller at the Society National Bank in Cleveland, when one Friday in July 1969, he pulled off one of the most biggest heists in the city’s history, by quietly filling a paper bag with $215,000 in cash and leaving.
It wasn’t until the following Monday, when Conrad didn’t show up for work, that the bank checked it vault and discovered the cash — equivalent to more than $1.7 million in 2021 — was missing.
By then, the former employee already had a two-day head start ahead of law enforcement — and they would never catch him.
The unassuming bank teller had been obsessed with the 1968 heist movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” starring Steve McQueen. In the film, which Conrad had seen more than a dozen times, McQueen robs a Boston bank of some $2 million with a team. Officials said Conrad bragged to his friends about how easy it would be to rob his workplace, and even told them of his plans.
His case went cold, eluding investigators for 52 years. It became part of Cleveland lore, and was featured on TV’s “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Detectives followed leads on Conrad’s whereabouts across the country, including Washington DC, California, Texas, Oregon and Hawaii, the US Marshal Service said in a statement.
Turns out all those years, Conrad had been living under the name Thomas Randele in the quaint Boston suburb of Lynnfield, Massachusetts. He’d had a family and worked as a golf and tennis professional and car salesman, according to Randele’s obituary.
US Marshals said they positively identified Randele as Conrad two weeks ago.
He died of lung cancer in May 2021 at the age of 71.
Peter J. Elliott, US Marshal for Northern Ohio, said he knew this case “all too well” after his father spent more than 20 years investigating the robbery.
“My father, John K. Elliott, was a dedicated career Deputy United States Marshal in Cleveland from 1969 until his retirement in 1990,” he said in a statement.
Elliott said his dad “never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.”
“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 added.
“Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.”