One of nation's most wanted bank robbers identified after 52 years

·2 min read

The U.S. Marshals Service has identified one of the nation's most wanted fugitives 52 years after the man pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland, Ohio.

According to the federal law enforcement agency, Theodore John Conrad, a former bank teller, showed up to work at the Society National Bank on July 11, 1969. After his shift ended, the 20-year-old man walked out with $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7 million in 2021) in a paper bag and vanished.

The case had remained cold since then until this past week when U.S. Marshals Service investigators from Cleveland travelled to Massachusetts and found out that Conrad had been living in a Boston suburb since 1970 as Thomas Randele.

Authorities positively identified Randele as Conrad after investigators were able to find connections between Conrad's records from 1960s and documents Randele filed later on, including a federal bankruptcy filing from 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release Friday.

Image: Theodore John Conrad had been living in a Boston suburb since 1970 as Thomas Randele (USMS)
Image: Theodore John Conrad had been living in a Boston suburb since 1970 as Thomas Randele (USMS)

Records also show that Randele died of lung cancer in Lynnfield, Massachusetts this past May. As Randele, his date of birth was July 10, 1947. But Conrad's real date of birth was July 10, 1949. He would have been 71 at the time of his death, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

The man lived near the location where the 1968 heist movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” starring Steve McQueen, was filmed. According to U.S. Marshals Service, Conrad was so obsessed with the film that he watched it more than a half dozen times. In the movie, McQueen's character steals about $2 million from a bank in Boston.

"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 U.S. Marshals Service said in the news release.

Conrad's fugitive investigation has astounded many investigators over the past five decades. The case has been featured on TV shows such as "America’s Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries."

Over that period of time, investigators have chased leads nationwide, including Washington D.C., California, Texas, Oregon, and Hawaii.

One of those investigators was John K. Elliott, the father of current Northern Ohio U.S. Marshall Peter J. Elliott.

"My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020," Peter said in a statement. "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 added.

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