Theodore Conrad managed to evade justice for 52 years until, after his death, the police found him and was able to close one of the most mysterious and high-profile cases in the history of the State of Ohio.
After searching for him for more than 50 years, Ohio police managed to find the person responsible for one of the largest bank robberies in state history. The man's name was Theodore John Conrad, and he robbed the Society's National Bank in Cleveland in July 1969.
At the time of the episode, Conrad was 20 years old and had finished high school just two years earlier. He had landed a job as a bank teller and had almost unlimited access to the vaults: his job was to pack and deliver cash when another teller or branch requested it. This is how On Friday, July 11, 1969, Conrad separated for himself $ 215,000 in a bag, which represents around $ 1.7 million currently if it is adjusted for inflation, and he walked away like nothing.
The fact that the robbery occurred on a Friday afternoon gave him a good advantage over the security forces. Due to the weekend, it was not until Monday morning that the bank employees noticed that that amount of money was missing and notified the authorities that when they found out that one of the tellers had not shown up for work, they put the spotlight on research on him.
Since that day, Conrad has managed to evade the radar of justice and has lived with another identity for more than 52 years. It was only this month that the Cleveland Police Force discovered a man named Thomas Randele, who was actually Conrad. Randele lived in Lynnfield, a Massachusetts state town, in a suburban neighborhood from the 1970s until May of this year, when she died of lung cancer at the age of 71.
His identity was confirmed after documents Conrad had filled out in the 1960s were cross-referenced with documents filled out by Randele later, including a bankruptcy filing in 2014. The case was settled by Agent Peter J. Elliot, whose father, John K. Elliot, had also worked the investigation and had dedicated much of his life to finding the whereabouts of Conrad. Elliot Sr. passed away in 2020 at the age of 83, so he could not witness his son solving the mystery. "I hope my father is resting a little easier today knowing that his investigation and his United States Marshals Service put an end to this decades-long mystery," said Elliott Jr.
The research records show that Conrad had been thinking of carrying out the crime for a long time, tempted by the supposed ease this meant for him and also influenced by a film that had obsessed: The Thomas Crown Affair (The Thomas Case Crown). This Steve McQueen film tells the story of a bank executive who manages to steal $ 2.6 million. Conrad saw it at least half a dozen times a year before robbing the bank, according to authorities' records. After that, Conrad began to imitate the character of McQueen and his high-end lifestyle. "He always thought of himself as Steve McQueen in that movie," said William O'Donnell., Conrad's former classmate.
Since he became obsessed with this issue, he repeatedly told his friends about his intentions to carry out the robbery. He emphasized how easy it would be to achieve it thanks to his level of access and his idea of doing it on a Friday, which would give him a 2-day advantage over the authorities. All he had to do, according to what he told his friends and as he finally ended up doing, was to put the money in a bag and walk out the front door as if nothing had happened.
Conrad was so calm that he had lunch with his best friend that same Friday before committing the robbery and disappearing forever. He seems not to have named his intentions in it, but Russel Metcalf, his best friend, was not surprised when he found out what happened. "I had no idea," Metcalf said when questioned, "But he always said security was lazy. He said it would not be difficult for him".
This is how Theodore John Conrad disappeared from the face of the earth, with Thomas Randele rising from his ashes. Information collected by the police shows that Conrad moved to Massachusetts in 1970 and that his name and identity were later changed. He dedicated himself to teaching golf and worked in a car dealership for almost 40 years during these years.
There he met his wife Kathy in the early 1970s and married her in 1982. A few years later, they had their first and only daughter. In the last years of his life, he faced financial problems, which indicates that the stolen money was not enough to live the rest of his life in peace, and in 2014 he declared bankruptcy with the State.
In his last days, when lung cancer had already won the battle, and he knew that he did not have much more time to live, he confessed his true identity and the crime he committed to his closest associates.