52-year-old mystery solved: Dead man ‘obsessed’ with movie named bank heist suspect

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — One of America’s most wanted fugitives — a suspect in one of the “biggest bank robberies in Cleveland history” — has been identified.

The U.S. Marshals Service Northern District of Ohio announced Friday that the 52-year-old mystery is now solved.

According to the Marshals Service, in the summer of 1969, Theodore John Conrad walked into his job at the Society National Bank, where he worked as a bank teller, and later walked out with $215,000, which authorities say is about $1.7 million in 2021.

After the 20-year-old Conrad didn’t show up for work a couple of days later, the bank checked their vault and found the money was missing.

“From there, Conrad, and the money he stole, had a two-day head start on law enforcement,” the Marshals Service said in a press release.

Over the years, Conrad was featured on shows like “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

There were leads that took investigators to such places as Washington, D.C.; Inglewood, California; western Texas; Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Marshals Service said the case remained cold until last week when marshals from Cleveland went to Boston and identified Thomas Randele of Massachusetts as the ” fictitious” name of Theodore J. Conrad, the suspect in the Cleveland bank robbery from 1969.

Investigators learned that a year before the robbery, Conrad had become “obsessed” with the film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a movie about a bank robbery by a millionaire businessman.

“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,” authorities said in the release.

The Marshals Service said the Boston suburb where the suspect was found was near the location where the original “Thomas Crown Affair” film was made.

The Marshals Service said Friday that authorities had confirmed that Conrad had been living “an unassuming life” since 1970 under a different name.

“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,” Peter J. Elliott, U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio, said in the release. “My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.”

According to the release, investigators were able to match documents Conrad had completed in the 1960s with documents Randele completed, including ones when he filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

“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,” Elliott said.

Randele died of lung cancer in May.

“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,” Elliott said. “Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.”

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