CLEVELAND – On Friday July 11, 1969, Theodore John Conrad walked into his job at the Society National Bank at 127 Public Square in Cleveland as an ordinary bank teller. He walked out at the end of the day with $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7 million in 2021) in a paper bag and vanished.
Conrad, age 20, pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland, Ohio history. It was not until the following Monday morning when Conrad failed to report to work, that the bank checked their vault only to find the missing money along with their missing employee.
From there Conrad, and the money he stole, had a two-day head start on law enforcement.
“This is a case I know all too well. My father, John K. Elliott, was a dedicated career Deputy United States Marshal in Cleveland from 1969 until his retirement in 1990," said Peter J. Elliott, United States Marshal for Northern Ohio. "My father took an interest in this case early because Conrad lived and worked near us in the late 1960s."
A year before the Cleveland bank robbery, Conrad became obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” The movie was based on the bank robbery for sport by a millionaire businessman. 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.
The fugitive investigation into Theodore ‘Ted’ Conrad perplexed many investigators over the past 50 years. Conrad was featured on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.
Investigators chased leads across the country, including Washington D.C., Inglewood, California, western Texas, Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
The case remained cold until this past week when United States Marshals from Cleveland traveled to Boston, Massachusetts and positively identified Thomas Randele of Lynnfield, Massachusetts as the fictitious name of Theodore J. Conrad.
He had been living an unassuming life in the Boston suburb since 1970. Ironically, he moved to Boston near the location where the original Thomas Crown Affair movie was filmed.
United States Marshals investigators from Cleveland were able 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.
Additional investigative information led Marshals to positively identifying Thomas Randele as Theodore J. Conrad. Thomas Randele died of lung cancer in May of 2021 in Lynnfield, Massachusetts using a date of birth as July 10, 1947.
His real date of birth was July 10, 1949, and Conrad would have been 71 at the time of his death.
"My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020," Elliott said. "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. Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.”