CLEVELAND — It was a crime that had been unsolved in Cleveland for more than a half a century. A bank teller, inspired by a hit Hollywood film, walked out of his job with more than $200,000 and disappeared in 1969.
This week, United States Marshals finally tracked down Theodore "Ted" Conrad, only to find that he died in May of this year.
On Friday July 11, 1969, 20-year-old Ted Conrad left his job at Society National Bank on Public Square carrying $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7 million in 2021) in a paper bag and vanished. It was one of the biggest bank robberies in the history of Cleveland.
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. That gave Conrad a two-day head start on law enforcement.
Investigators say one of Conrad's influences was the 1968 Steve McQueen film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” 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.
Conrad was a fugitive from justice for over 50 years. He was featured on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries as investigators chased leads across the country, including Washington D.C., Inglewood, California, western Texas, Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
The case remained cold until this week when United States Marshals from Cleveland traveled to Boston 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.
"This past week, we identified Thomas Randele as Theodore J. Conrad. He led an unassuming life in the suburbs of Boston, was very well liked in his community. There are a few things that led us there," said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot during a Friday press conference.
Marshals 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.
It turns out that 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.
“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. 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. 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," said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott in a statement.