By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A deceased Carter Road man has been identified as the perpetrator of one of the largest bank heists in Cleveland, Ohio history.
U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio Peter J. Elliott announced on Friday, Nov. 12 that Theodore John Conrad had been living under the alias Thomas Randele at 55 Carter Rd. He passed away in May at the age of 71.
Elliott stated that Conrad stole $215,000, the equivalent of $1.7 million in 2021, from the Society National Bank, 127 Public Square, Cleveland, while he was working as a bank teller on Friday, July 11, 1969. The theft occurred the day after Conrad’s 20th birthday. Elliott stated that Conrad walked out of the bank with the money in a paper bag and disappeared without a trace.
“Conrad pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland, Ohio history,” stated Elliott. “It was not until the following Monday morning when Conrad failed to report to work that the bank checked their vault only to find the missing money along with their missing employee. From there, Conrad and the money he stole had a two-day head start on law enforcement.”
Elliott stated that Conrad was obsessed with the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” The film, starring Steve McQueen, is about a millionaire businessman who committed bank robberies for fun.
“Conrad saw it more than a half dozen times,” stated Elliott. “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.”
Elliott recalled that the Conrad case left investigators, including the U.S. Marshal’s late father, perplexed over the past 52 years
“This is a case I know all too well,” Elliott stated. “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. My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.”
Elliott also recalled that Conrad’s case had been featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”
“Investigators chased leads across the country, including Washington D.C., Inglewood, California, Western Texas, Oregon and Honolulu, Hawaii,” stated Elliott.
Elliott said the cold case was solved last week.
“United States Marshals from Cleveland, Ohio traveled to Boston, Massachusetts and positively identified Thomas Randele of Lynnfield, Massachusetts as the fictitious name of Theodore J. Conrad,” stated Elliott. “He had been living an unassuming life in the Boston suburb since 1970. Ironically, he moved to Boston near the location where the original ‘Thomas Crown Affair’ movie was filmed.”
Elliott stated that Cleveland-based U.S. Marshals were able to identify Conrad after they matched “documents that Conrad completed in the 1960s with documents Randele completed, including documents from when Randele filed for bankruptcy in Boston Federal Court in 2014.”
“Additional investigative information led Marshals to positively identifying Thomas Randele as Theodore J. Conrad,” stated Elliott. “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.”
Randele passed away from lung cancer with his family by his side on May 18, 2021. His wake at the McDonald Funeral in Wakefield featured a long line of mourners that wrapped around the entire building.
Elliott stated that Conrad used “a date of birth as July 10, 1947.”
“His real date of birth was July 10, 1949, and Conrad would have been 71 at the time of his death,” stated Elliott.
According to Thomas Randele’s obituary, he was the son of the late Edward and Ruthabeth Randele, whose real last name was Conrad. The obituary also stated that he was born and raised in Colorado before moving to the East Coast to attend New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.
Randele’s obituary stated that he began his professional career working as the assistant golf pro and teaching pro at Pembroke Country Club. He later switched careers and sold luxury cars for close to 40 years. He worked for Woburn Foreign Motors, Range Rover and Route 128 Volvo before retiring.
“He was also an excellent cook, who loved watching any and all cooking shows,” stated Randele’s obituary. “He enjoyed testing out new recipes on his wife and daughter, always asking, ‘So, can I make this again?’ at the end of every meal.”
Randele left behind his wife Kathy and daughter Ashley. Kathy worked for the town’s Planning Department for 28 years before she retired in September 2017.
“I’m still grieving the loss of my husband, who was a great man,” Kathy told Cleveland.com.
Randele also left behind his brother-in-law Richard Mahan of Swampscott as well as many extended family members and friends.
“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,” stated Elliott. “Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.”