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Thomas Randele: Inside the operation that unraveled the mystery of the 50-year-old bank robbery

An child of Cleveland, Ohio, Peter Elliott learned Ted “Theodore” Conrad’s name early on.

Elliott’s father, John Elliott, was a United States Deputy Marshal and was involved in the effort to solve what has become one of the city’s most notorious crimes, the 1969 theft of $ 215,000 of the Society National Bank.

Conrad, obsessed with the 1968 film The Thomas Crown affair, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, told friends he believed he too could steal money from a bank. Plus, it wouldn’t need the complex heist featured in the film directed by Norman Jewison; Conrad had a job at the National Bank Company which gave him access to the safe.

All he had to do was create a situation where he would be left alone there, a violation of bank protocols, but something easy enough to secure by telling a coworker that they could stop earlier.

And that’s precisely what 20-year-old Conrad did. According to authorities, on Friday July 11, 1969, he left his job with a paper bag containing money, now worth $ 1.7 million.

And then he disappeared. His closest friends say they never heard from him again. Authorities have no evidence that he even spoke to his parents, who were divorced, or to any of his three siblings.

A friend imagined Conrad had traveled to the Southern Oceans with his hand on the helm of an expensive yacht.

Tom Randele, aka Ted Conrad, at the 2018 US Open Golf Tournament at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton NY


Yet that is not what happened. Recently, it was revealed that after leaving Cleveland, Conrad in 1970 traveled to Boston – the city where much of The Thomas Crown affair was filmed – got a new social security card with a fictitious name Thomas Randele added two years to his age and started a new life.

He got married, had a daughter, worked in car sales and as a golf professional, and was known as a kind, cheerful man with a ready smile, someone always ready to help. Among his friends was a retired FBI agent.

Last May, suffering from cancer, he confessed the truth to his 40-year-old wife, Kathy. Presumably in shock at what he had said to her, she nonetheless invited some of her golfing friends and former colleagues to their place to say a final farewell. At this point he was too ill to speak.

Six months later, authorities knocked on his door, asking for his help with this unsolved crime of half a century ago. The officer who spoke to him was Peter Elliott, who had followed his father into the US Marshals Service and was now seeking to close the circle on the mystery.

“I knocked on the door and his wife invited me and my deputy,” Elliott said. The independent. “At first she was a little reluctant to say anything, and I told her I wasn’t there for her. I said, ‘You’re not in trouble. I’m just here because I don’t think your husband is who he said he was ”.

Elliott says the trip that took him from his downtown Cleveland offices to a quiet street in the town of Lynnfield, which is part of the greater Boston area, had a number of twists and turns.

Ted Conrad was obsessed with the movie “The Thomas Crown Affair”, with Steve McQueen

(Alay Stock Photos)

For many years, Elliott’s father was quietly obsessed with crime and trying to solve it. Ted Conrad’s name has been added and mixed into everyday conversations.

“We were at dinner and he was like ‘Pass the mashed potatoes – and where do you think Ted Conrad is,’” says Elliott, 59.

Part of his father’s fixation, Elliott says, was that Conrad moved to the Cleveland neighborhood of Lakewood as a teenager and attended Lakewood High School. Elliott and his father also lived in Lakewood, and Conrad and Elliott’s father went to the same doctor. For a while, Conrad worked at a store where Elliott took his son to buy ice cream.

“It’s a little weird, isn’t it,” says Elliott. “But my dad was really interested in it. For my dad, when I was growing up, it was literally his fixation.

Even after his father retired in 1990, he retained an interest in the case, as his son continued to receive advice and suggestions on what may have happened around the world. Five years ago, he received a tip from the British authorities, suggesting that Conrad may have stayed in a boarding house in the city of Canterbury. Elliott and his team examined the tip, but discovered it was not their man.

What was his father’s theory?

“Well he’s had a bunch of different theories over the years,” says Elliott. “Sometimes he thought Conrad was alive. Other advice came by saying this and that. He thought Conrad had done the same thing again, and he followed some of those leads. You know, we’ve been following trails from Hawaii to Oregon to England.

US Marshall Peter Elliott in his Cleveland, Ohio office


In its own way, the reality was even more surprising. And much closer to come.

For most of the time after leaving Cleveland, Conrad, the budding ex-thief, lived just 650 miles east, in a suburban neighborhood, where he started a new life and seemingly slipped away. inside.

He played golf so much that he became good enough to become a club pro at the Pembroke Country Club, south of Boston, where he taught lessons and eventually became the manager.

In 1982 he married his wife, Kathy Mahan, who had met in the early 1970s, and they had a daughter, Ashley. He then worked in car sales at several dealerships, a career that spanned four decades. His friends said he kept a set of golf clubs in the showroom and when business slowed down he practiced swinging a 7 iron.

“He was just a sweet soul, you know, very polite, very well spoken,” Jerry Healy, who first met him at a dealership in Woburn, Mass., Recently told The Associated Press.

He added, “It never occurred to us, and it’s a half-dozen guys who aren’t easy to cheat on.”

Matt Kaplan, another of the half-dozen friends who played together and socialized, said the man they knew as Thomas Randele was the definition of a “gentleman.”

“The only way it makes sense is that at that age he was just a kid, and that was kind of a challenge,” Kaplan said of the 1969 bank robbery.

“It’s not like he’s become a professional bank robber.”

He added, “If he’d told us when, I don’t think we would have believed him because he wasn’t that kind of guy. The man was different from the child.

His wife did not respond to inquiries from The independent. Indeed, her only comment to the press since the truth about the man she has lived with for over 40 years became public, was in Cleveland. Ordinary merchant. She said: “I still mourn the loss of my husband, who was a great man.”

Peter Elliott, (right) with his father John Elliott on the day he became US Marshall

(Peter Elliott)

Elliott says authorities couldn’t solve the mystery of the missing bank robber until after his death. Someone – he won’t say who – informed them of an obituary by Thomas Randele that his family arranged to have published in the weekly Lynnwood News. It is unclear how the tipster figured out that this obituary, among the countless thousands posted each week across the country, led to Ted Conrad.

He noted that he was born in Denver on July 10, his parents were named Edward and Ruthabeth, and that he attended New England College in New Hampshire.

All of this – with the exception of the year he was born, which he changed to 1970 – matched what authorities knew about Ted Conrad.

Elliott says they began investigating the case and found that Thomas Randele had filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and his team were able to obtain from Boston courts the file that contained his signature. He says that among the documents his father gathered during the year was Conrad’s 1967 application to New England College, located in the town of Henniker, which was signed by the young man. They looked alike.

“One thing about handwriting, good or bad, is that it doesn’t really change over time. You can get a little more sloppy, but you still do your D the same way and so on, ”he says.

“If you take a look at these signatures, you know it right away. He added: “I really have to thank my father for this. Because, although he passed away, we were able to use the materials he had collected over the years.”

1968 Thomas Crown Case Trailer

Armed with this information, Elliott and his deputy were able to travel to Lynnfield and approach the property, surrounded by mature trees, where Conrad has reportedly lived since 1986.

He says he thinks Conrad’s widow expected someone like him to knock on the door sooner or later. “I think she predicted that someday someone was going to find out something, that’s what I guess,” he said.

“She then admitted that he admitted that he really was Theodore Conrad, before he passed away, and that he got the money back in the ’60s and regretted it, which I really believe.”

Elliott says one of the many sad parts of the story is that the family is seemingly running out of money. He says there were more unopened banknotes stacked around the house than ever before, an irony for a man who once robbed a bank.

Another challenge for the family, he says, as they mourn the loss of a father and husband, is that those close to Conrad are living with a false name.

Does Elliott believe Conrad’s widow and daughter felt any relief?

“Yeah, I think there was a part of them that knew this was going to happen. It’s an embarrassment in many ways for them, ”he said.

“And, because all I know – let’s call him Thomas Randele – is that in this life he was a good person, a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good father, a good friend to many, and from what I’ve heard, a pretty good guy.

He adds, “So for them, I think there was a part, where they didn’t want it to come out. But I think they knew it probably would.

Original arrest warrant for Ted Conrad from 1969

(United States Marshals Office)

The Independent Gt

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