US Marshals track down Cleveland bank robber after 52 years: ‘Doesn’t always end like in the movies’

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On Friday, July 11, 1969, Marshals say Theodore John Conrad walked into his job at the Society National Bank on Public Square. He walked out later that day with $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7 million today) in a paper bag. (U.S. Marshals Service)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The mystery behind one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland history has been solved 52 years later, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

On Friday, July 11, 1969, Marshals say Theodore John Conrad walked into his job at the Society National Bank on Public Square. He walked out later that day with $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7 million today) in a paper bag.

Investigators say Conrad, who was 20 at the time, then vanished.

Bank employees didn’t notice the theft until Monday when Conrad failed to show up at work.

Now, investigators say they have been able to track Conrad down, though he died earlier this year as a free man.

U.S. Marshals say Conrad had been living under the identity of Thomas Randele in the Boston suburb of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, since 1970. They made the discovery earlier this week when they were able to match documents that Conrad completed in the 1960s with those Randele completed when he filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

Randele died of lung cancer in May at the age of 71.

Leading up to the bank robbery in Cleveland, Marshals say Conrad was obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” about a wealthy businessman who orchestrated the robbery of a Boston bank.

Marshals say Conrad bragged to his friends about how easy it would be to take money from the bank, and he even told them that he planned to do so.

Ironically, where Conrad had moved was near the filming location of the original “Thomas Crown Affair” movie.

The search for Conrad perplexed many investigators over the years. Conrad has been featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries” as investigators received tips from across the country.

U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said one of those investigators was his own father, who was particularly puzzled by the case.

“This is a case I know all too well. 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,” said Elliott.

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

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