December 3, 2021

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Federal authorities identify ‘one of America’s most wanted fugitives’ 52 years after bank robbery – USA TODAY

2 min read

Fifty-two years after a “The Thomas Crown Affair” obsessed bank teller stole the modern-day equivalent of $1.7 million from his workplace in Cleveland and vanished, authorities say the case has been solved.

According to The United States Marshals Service, on July 11, 1969, 20-year-old Theodore John Conrad walked into his job at the Society National Bank in Cleveland and when he left, he took $215,000 in a paper bag. The following Monday, bank employees realized the one was missing after Conrad didn’t report to work.  

Authorities said they learned Conrad told friends before the incident that it was easy to steal money from a bank, and he was planning to eventually do so. Conrad had become obsessed with the 1968 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a movie about a millionaire that steals money for sport, for over a year before he committed the robbery.

With a two-day head start on authorities, Conrad evaded arrest for over 50 years, despite being featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries” and investigators following leads around the country. 

But last week, U.S. Marshals from Cleveland identified a man in Lynnfield, Massachusetts under the name Thomas Randele was actually Conrad. They found that Conrad had died in May of 2021 from lung cancer at the age of 71.

Authorities were able to confirm Randele was Conrad from the similarities in documents he submitted in the 1960s and ones submitted in the past 10 years, including when he filed for bankruptcy in 2014. 

Conrad had live in Massachusetts under the pseudonym since 1970, close to where the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair” was filmed. Authorities said Conrad had lived an “unassuming life” while in Lynnfield, and changed his actual date of birth of July 10, 1947 to July 10, 1949.

The case of Conrad’s whereabouts was originally handled by U.S. Marshal John K. Elliott until he retired in 1990. His son, U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio Peter J. Elliott, said in a statement the case was one he knew all too well.

“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,” he said. 

Elliott said he hopes his father, who passed away in 2020, is “resting a little easier” that the case he ” always wanted closure” from had finally been brought to a close.

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

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

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