Father and Son Help Crack Unsolved 1969 Bank Robbery

The boy watched as his father, John Ok. Elliott, sat within the kitchen one afternoon in 1970, misplaced in thought.

“Are you able to move the mashed potatoes?” Peter J. Elliott requested his father, a U.S. marshal in Cleveland, Ohio, who was serious about the person who had pulled off one of many largest financial institution robberies within the metropolis’s historical past.

“When am I going to get Ted Conrad?” Mr. Elliott requested his son, a 12 months after Theodore J. Conrad had walked off with $215,000 in money, the equal of about $1.6 million right now.

On Friday, greater than 50 years after the heist, the youthful Mr. Elliott, now a U.S. marshal himself, had a solution for his father.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced that it had discovered Mr. Conrad after investigators pursued a lead and found that he had been residing below the fictional title Thomas Randele in Lynnfield, Mass., about 16 miles north of Boston, till his loss of life from lung most cancers in Could.

Investigators had chased leads throughout the nation, to California, Hawaii, Texas and Oregon, seeking their fugitive. Mr. Conrad was featured on a number of true-crime reveals, together with “America’s Most Wished” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Investigators realized that after the theft, Mr. Conrad fled to Washington, D.C., after which to Los Angeles, and finally went to Massachusetts in 1970, the place he established deep roots along with his spouse and daughter. There, he was a golf professional, labored at a luxury-car dealership for 40 years and loved watching “NCIS” and different legislation enforcement reveals on tv, Mr. Elliott stated.

Mr. Conrad was nicely appreciated in his group by cops and different legislation enforcement officers.

“That’s in all probability why, you recognize, we didn’t meet up with him previously as a result of he was a law-abiding citizen, and we didn’t have any fingerprints on file,” Mr. Elliott stated.

On his deathbed, Mr. Conrad instructed his household the reality, Mr. Elliott stated. He instructed them his actual title and what he had completed on July 11, 1969.

It was a Friday, and he went to work on the Society Nationwide Financial institution in Cleveland, the place he was a financial institution teller. On the finish of the day, he stuffed cash from the vault right into a paper bag and left.

By Monday morning, as his co-workers opened the vault and puzzled the place their colleague was, Mr. Conrad had a two-day head begin on the authorities.

A few of the particulars of the theft, such because the denomination of the payments and the way Mr. Conrad was capable of stroll out with out being seen, weren’t instantly obtainable. However Mr. Elliott stated there was not a lot safety on the financial institution, the place staff weren’t even fingerprinted.

A 12 months earlier than, Mr. Conrad had been obsessive about “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a 1968 Steve McQueen film through which a bored billionaire robs a financial institution to amuse himself. Mr. Conrad had instructed buddies that he deliberate to rob a financial institution, bragging about how simple it will be, the U.S. Marshals Service stated.

“He was a darer, so to talk,” Mr. Elliott stated. “After seeing that film, I imagine he thought, ‘Hey, what if I do that and get away with this?’ I actually suppose it was a problem for him to have the ability to do it.”

Years later, the authorities would retrieve a letter that Mr. Conrad wrote in 1969 to his girlfriend. In it, he confessed to the crime and expressed remorse for committing it.

After Mr. Conrad confessed this 12 months, his household didn’t contact the authorities, Mr. Elliott stated. Solely after the authorities noticed an obituary for Thomas Randele, 73, did they start to piece collectively proof, which had been largely gathered by Mr. Elliott’s father a long time in the past.

Mr. Elliott stated the Randele household wouldn’t be charged for failing to reveal Mr. Conrad’s confession to the authorities. Mr. Conrad had been indicted and there’s no statute of limitations on financial institution theft, so he would have nonetheless been arrested if the authorities had discovered him, Mr. Elliott stated.

He declined to share what led investigators to the obituary. However as soon as they noticed it, they discovered info that mirrored that of Mr. Conrad’s real life. Mr. Conrad’s actual start date was July 10, 1949. Within the obituary, the start date listed was July 10, 1947.

The second clue was his dad and mom’ names. They had been nearly precisely the identical within the obituary. The obituary additionally included his precise alma mater, New England School, and birthplace, Denver.

“When folks lie, they lie near house,” Mr. Elliott stated.

Then, the ultimate clue that pieced all of it collectively: a signature from a university software, which was first discovered by Mr. Elliott’s father, which was much like one which the authorities discovered on a chapter courtroom doc in 2014, scribbled with the title Thomas Randele.

That was all Mr. Elliott wanted. He traveled to Lynnfield, knocked on the door and was greeted by Mr. Conrad’s household, who had been shocked to see the officers.

“I really feel dangerous for them due to a father-husband that they actually by no means knew who he was, and likewise, you recognize, they’re residing below a fictitious title,” Mr. Elliott stated.

Kathy Randele, Mr. Conrad’s widow, stated in an interview on Saturday that “we’re nonetheless mourning his loss, and he was a beautiful dad and a superb father.” She declined additional remark.

The final time Mr. Elliott and his father talked in regards to the financial institution theft case was in March 2020, when John Ok. Elliott was in hospice.

Mr. Elliott wished to cheer him up, so he reached for his iPad and performed “Lake Erie’s Coldest Cases,” a documentary collection that featured an episode on the case and confirmed his father being interviewed.

“Hey, look, you’re on TV,” Mr. Elliott instructed his father, who smiled.

John Ok. Elliott died a couple of days later.

Maybe quickly, Mr. Elliott stated, he’ll watch “The Thomas Crown Affair,” see Steve McQueen attempt to get away with it, and consider his father.

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