Sun. May 26th, 2024

Thomas Randele was dying of lung most cancers and had a secret.

In March of 2021, along with his daughter at his bedside in suburban Boston after his first chemotherapy session, he made a surprising confession: He was a fugitive, and had been one for greater than 5 a long time. Greater than 50 years earlier, when he was 20 years outdated, he’d robbed an Ohio financial institution of $215,000. And his actual title was not Thomas Randele however Theodore Conrad.

He implored his daughter to not look into the case. However after this bombshell revelation, Ashley Randele didn’t sleep a lot that night time. So she did what most curious individuals would do.

“I’m alone in my childhood bed room, and I Googled ‘Ted Conrad lacking,’ and the very first thing that got here up stated one thing like, ‘Vault teller robs financial institution.’ I used to be like, ‘Oh my God, that is my dad,’” she instructed CNN. “And there have been a whole lot and a whole lot of articles about him.”

With each click on, her father’s darkish previous unspooled earlier than her eyes.

In Lynnfield, Massachusetts, Thomas Randele was a automotive salesman and a rustic membership golf professional who adored his spouse and solely youngster. He doted on his daughter and confirmed up for her soccer video games in khaki pants and quick automobiles. In an ironic twist, he additionally donated to native police charities and spent hours watching “NCIS” and different crime reveals, his daughter stated.

However again in Cleveland, he was Ted Conrad, an elusive financial institution robber. He was barely out of his teenagers when he’d pulled off one of many largest heists in Ohio historical past — the equal of $1.7 million in the present day — impressed by his favourite film, “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

Conrad’s boyish face was plastered on needed posters and broadcast on episodes of “America’s Most Needed” and “Unsolved Mysteries.” And a pair of father-and-son US marshals in Cleveland had made it their life’s mission to seize him.

“I instructed him, ‘I appeared you up. And there are one million articles about you. And so they’re additionally nonetheless in search of you, in case you didn’t know. And we’ve got to inform Mother,’” stated Ashley Randele, 38, who’s co-host of a brand new podcast on who her father was and what drove him to rob a financial institution.

A day or so after her father’s stunning revelation, Ashley instructed CNN she pulled her mom Kathy apart and instructed her.

“She was studying by way of the articles on-line, and she or he simply saved saying, ‘Oh my God! Oh, my God!,’ for like 10 minutes,” Ashley Randele stated. (Kathy Randele declined to remark to CNN.) “She’d recognized him for the higher a part of 40 years, and to be taught this huge secret — I can’t think about how traumatizing that was for her.”

Her dad was obsessive about a Steve McQueen film a few financial institution heist

Conrad’s disappearance puzzled investigators for 5 a long time.

Some in contrast it to the 1971 case of hijacker D.B. Cooper, who parachuted out of a aircraft with $200,000 in money and vanished over the huge wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, by no means to be seen once more.

Conrad’s heist additionally seemed like a narrative from a film. On July 11, 1969, he confirmed up for work as a teller at Society Nationwide Financial institution in Cleveland. It was a Friday and his birthday weekend, so he purchased a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes throughout his break. On the finish of the day, he went into the vault, quietly stuffed $215,000 right into a paper bag and walked away from his outdated life.

It wasn’t till Monday that the financial institution discovered concerning the theft, giving him a two-day head begin.

Days later Conrad despatched two letters to his then-girlfriend — from Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles — saying how a lot he beloved and missed her. Then the case went chilly.  Authorities may discover no traces of him.

Theodore “Ted” Conrad was an unassuming financial institution teller when he strolled out of an Ohio financial institution with greater than $200,000. – Ross Anthony Willis/Fairfax Media/Getty Photographs

The week after his disappearance, Apollo 11 landed the primary people on the moon. The historic mission hogged the headlines, and the press quickly forgot concerning the mysterious financial institution robber in Cleveland. Months turned to years after which a long time.

However investigators didn’t quit. They bought recommendations on alleged sightings in numerous states, together with California, Hawaii, Texas and Oregon. The leads all turned out to be false. Pissed off, federal officers spotlighted his case on true-crime reveals comparable to “America’s Most Needed.”

In the meantime, the previous Ted Conrad was constructing a brand new life as Randele in Massachusetts. In an ironic twist, he selected to settle in a suburb north of Boston, the town the place his favourite film was set and filmed.

Authorities say Conrad was obsessive about “The Thomas Crown Affair,” the 1968 Steve McQueen movie a few dashing millionaire businessman who robs a Boston financial institution for enjoyable. (The film was remade within the Nineties with Pierce Brosnan.) His mates in Ohio instructed investigators that he’d watched it a number of occasions earlier than the theft.

He’d even bragged about how he bought a job as a vault teller with out offering his fingerprints, and the way straightforward it will be to steal cash from the financial institution, investigators stated.

Ashley Randele believes her dad beloved the film a lot that he’d picked his new first title, Thomas, as a tribute to its important character.

She stated her dad didn’t precisely dwell as if he was in hiding. He drove her to high school each day and picked her up on his days off. Typically, she stated, he chaperoned her faculty journeys.

However little issues began to make sense after his confession, she stated. Her father, clean-shaven as a younger man, all the time wore a beard and barely took off his baseball hat in public.

And he by no means left the nation. Ashley stated she and her mother as soon as begged him to go along with them to France, however he refused, saying he was not a fan of abroad journey.

“He all the time stated there have been so many attention-grabbing issues to see in america. He didn’t want to depart the nation,” Randele stated.

She realizes now that his false id meant he had no passport.

She started trying to find solutions about her father’s shadowy previous

His confession turned the Randele household the wrong way up.

Ashley stated she and her mom knew her dad seemingly solely had just a few months left to dwell, so that they determined to not share his secret with authorities. The very last thing she needed, she stated, was to see her ailing, 71-year-old father hauled off to jail.

“The very first thing Mother and I stated to him was, ‘We love you a lot. And discovering this out doesn’t change that we love you. However we do want to speak about it,” she stated.

Pictures, a driver’s license, the unique warrant and different gadgets from Conrad’s 1969 theft are proven on December 16, 2021, on the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse in Cleveland. – Ken Blaze/AP

“I wasn’t in a position to be offended with him on the time, as a result of that simply felt form of unfair. I used to be making an attempt to get as a lot info out of him as potential, simply since you need to know … I used to be in a position to be offended after he handed.”

Ashley Randele stated she as soon as instructed her father she’d hold her final title after she marries in order that it wouldn’t die with him.

However after his confession, she questioned: Was it even her title anymore?

“That was exhausting, that my title isn’t mine. It’s on my start certificates. It’s a actual title. However that his title was faux,” she stated. “For a second, I did take into consideration altering my title.”

Her father died in Could 2021, two months after his confession.

In her new podcast premiering Monday titled, “Smoke Display screen: My Fugitive Dad,” Randele discusses her wrestle caring for a dying father whereas grappling with confusion over unwittingly dwelling a lifetime of lies.

The suburban Boston lady, who works in retail and customer support, stated she believed there was extra to her dad’s brazen theft past his love for a film. So she determined to begin trying to find solutions.

She finally tracked down a few of her father’s outdated mates and girlfriends, who shared tales about him and helped her fill in some gaps from his youthful years.

Engaged on the podcast, she stated, has unearthed some solutions, allowed her to grieve and helped her start to reconcile the stealthy financial institution robber in Ohio with the doting husband and father she knew in Massachusetts. For instance, her dad’s mates instructed her he was fluent in French, which stunned her as a result of she had struggled with French homework as a child and he didn’t provide to assist.

“I needed the world to know who my dad was. And I additionally needed to study Ted Conrad, the financial institution robber, and Tom Randele, my dad,” she instructed CNN. “I needed to know — the place do they overlap?”

After her dad’s dying, US Marshals confirmed up at her door

Ashley Randele stated she and her mom made a pact to spend one yr grieving the person they’d misplaced earlier than sharing his secret with investigators.

She stated they agreed to inform police in June 2022. However federal authorities beat them to it.

In November 2021, US Marshals confirmed up unannounced on the Randeles’ door in Lynnfield. The marshals reassured her and her mom that they’d not face fees, Ashley Randele stated.

Seems that after Randele died of lung most cancers in Could, investigators bought their first massive break within the case. Somebody had despatched his obituary to a criminal offense reporter in Ohio with a word saying the deceased man was seemingly Conrad, Ashley Randele stated.

The obituary listed her father’s date of start as July 10, 1947 — the identical birthday as Conrad’s however two years older, US Marshal Pete Elliott instructed CNN. The obit additionally listed Conrad’s mother and father’ names, however with Randele added to the top, Elliott stated.

Investigators started digging and unearthed a 2014 chapter submitting by Randele in a Boston federal court docket. The handwriting matched that on a 1967 school utility Conrad had crammed out, Elliott stated.

Investigators then traveled from Cleveland to Lynnfield to substantiate Conrad’s id. Amongst them was Elliott, whose father, John Elliott, had spent a lot of his regulation enforcement profession trying to find Conrad earlier than his dying in 2020.

The youthful Elliott, a US marshal in Ohio like his father, lastly had a solution to the questions that had eluded his dad for many years. Within the podcast, Elliott describes the case as “an elegantly easy however infinitely advanced” thriller.

Elliott stated his father wasted years chasing down false leads across the nation and lacking his son’s baseball video games, and was offended that Conrad had stolen cash it will have taken him a few years to earn as a federal officer.

“Some individuals portrayed Conrad as a Robin Hood. And my dad referred to as him nothing however a thief,” he stated.

However that day in November 2021 introduced a little bit of closure. When Elliott knocked on their door and launched himself as a federal marshal from Ohio, Ashley Randele stated the expression on her face most likely instructed investigators every part they wanted to know.

“I believe you realize why we’re right here,” she stated Elliott instructed her.

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