He pulled off the heist of a lifetime and then he disappeared without a trace. He changed his name, his birthdate, became a golf pro, and sold luxury cars.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Theodore John Conrad was just 20 years old when he succeeded the heist of a lifetime. Conrad worked as a teller at the Society National Bank on Public Square in Cleveland and used to brag to his friends that it would be easy to disappear with a large amount of money.
Conrad was obsessed with the film “The Thomas Crown Affair “which details a brazen robbery and he vowed to pull off something similar at the bank. According to IMDb, the film is about a “debonair, adventuresome bank executive” who “believes he has pulled off the perfect multi-million dollar heist, only to match wits with a sexy insurance investigator who will do anything to get her man.”
Conrad was so fascinated with the dashing Steve McQueen and his actions that he planned his own heist. The tire hit the road on July 11, 1969, the Marshals Service said in a News release on Friday.
It was a Friday, the end of the workweek when Conrad smoothly loaded $215,000 (the modern-day equivalent would be around $1.7 million) into a brown paper bag. He selected 1,500 $100 bills, 1,200 $50 bills and 250 $20 bills.
After that, he disappeared, changed his name, his birthdate, his lifestyle, and his location.
The Society National Bank didn’t realize what had happened until that Monday when Conrad didn’t show up for work and they discovered the $215,000 missing — but by then, Conrad had two solid days to walk away.
The story about the heist went crazy and people thought they saw him in California, in Paris, in Hawaii-and may have been seen by a couple, when they visited the bar at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki about three months after his disappearance. They started a conversation with a young man also at the bar. When they said they were from Ohio, the young man excused himself and disappeared, but he had already shared a few pieces of information about his life.
Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler with the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force told KITV-TV back in 2017 that they knew he’d been in the area, but the couple was able to give them more information.
“We were able to track him from Cleveland to Washington Reagan National Airport to Los Angeles, and the last stop we know of was in your great state of Hawaii and we believe there is somebody on that island that either knows him, knows of him or had a brief stint relationship with him,”
“As soon as they mentioned Cleveland, Ohio, he got up, said oh excuse me, I have to use the restroom, he departed.
“He had an apartment. Apparently, he was renting that apartment so if he was renting that apartment, that means he made contact with someone, a landlord, somebody and he was paying cash obviously for his apartment.”
Unfortunately, the man vanished again, leaving just a little trace. The fugitive investigation into Theodore ‘Ted’ Conrad puzzled investigators for more than five decades.
Conrad was featured on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries while investigators chased leads across the country, including Washington D.C., Inglewood, California, western Texas, Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
For 52 years, authorities were unable to track him — until they made a breakthrough this year after comparing documents Conrad filled out in the 1960s with documents a “Thomas Randele” filed in more recent years.
Apparently, Conrad had changed his name to Thomas Randele, had a wife named Kathy and a daughter named Ashley. He also became a local golf professional and made a 40-year career selling luxury vehicles.
He had been living an unassuming life in the Boston suburb since 1970 close to the location where the original Thomas Crown Affair movie was filmed.
U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot said:
“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.”
One of America’s Most Wanted Fugitives Identified After 52 Years. Mystery solved of Ted Conrad, who pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland, Ohio history. pic.twitter.com/Jg4cbDmkfH
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) November 12, 2021
Although he had made a life in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, his ill-gotten gains hadn’t served him well as he had filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
And though his identity was finally confirmed, it was too late. Conrad died of lung cancer in May of 2021 in Lynnfield 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.
His wife and daughter had had no idea about his heist until he told them at his last minute. His obituary stated that he loved golf, cars, and cooking, and spent a significant amount of time perfecting his skills and trying out new recipes for his wife and daughter.
For Elliot, the case is personal as his father was also a U.S. marshal who died last year and never got to see the case closed.
“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.”