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Father And Son Crack Decades-Old Bank Robbery Inspired By Classic Movie

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 14 Nov 2021 16:07
Father and Son Crack 52 Year Robbery Case - US Marshalls Service/Pictorial Press/AlamyUS Marshals Service/Pictorial Press/Alamy

A father and son cop duo have cracked a bank robbery case that was left unsolved for more than 50 years. 

On July 11, 1969, Theodore J. Conrad robbed a bank in Cleveland of $215,000 in cash, equating to around $1.6 million today. It was one of the biggest bank robberies in the city’s history.

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John K. Elliott was a US Marshal at the time of the robbery who collected evidence on the case, and his son Peter J. Elliott has since followed in his father’s footsteps.

On Friday, November 12, after 52 years, Peter, alongside the US Marshals Service, announced that Conrad had finally been found.

Father and Son Crack Decades-Old Bank Robbery - US Marshals Service US Marshals Service

Conrad, who has been the subject of several true-crime documentaries, was revealed as having been living under the name of Thomas Randele, The New York Times reports.

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Having previously been thought to be in Hawaii, Texas, California or Oregon, the fugitive was located as having lived in Lynnfield, Massachusetts – just 16 miles from Boston – until he died in May 2021 from lung cancer.

Investigators uncovered that Conrad had a wife and daughter, who he had settled down with in Massachusetts in 1970 after years on the run in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

During his time as a family man, Conrad spent 40 years working for a luxury-car dealership company and became a professional golfer.

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While living as Thomas Randele, Conrad got along well with police officials and was a ‘law-abiding citizen’, which helped prevent him from being discovered.

According to Peter Elliot, he even ironically enjoyed programmes such as NCIS and other programmes about law enforcement.

Father and Son Crack Decades-Old Bank Robbery 2 - US Marshals Service.US Marshals Service

Conrad had worked as a bank teller at the Society National Bank in Cleveland, which had little security and no fingerprint system, when he took money from a vault at the end of one day and left.

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A couple of days later, on Monday 14, the empty vault was discovered by Conrad’s colleagues, however the weekend had given him a head start in evading authorities.

The US Marshals Service stated that Conrad had told friends about his plans to rob a bank after becoming obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film, The Thomas Crown Affair. In the film, a billionaire decides to rob a bank because he’s bored and Conrad reportedly boasted about how easy it would be for him to do the same.

Elliot stated:

He was a darer, so to speak. After seeing that movie, I believe he thought, ‘Hey, what if I do this and get away with this?’ I really think it was a challenge for him to be able to do it.

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Father and Son Catch Bank Robber After 52 Years - The Thomas Crown Affair, United ArtistsUnited Artists

However, in 1969, Conrad expressed his regret over the robbery in a confession letter to his girlfriend, and the truth eventually came out when Conrad was on his death bed, at the age of 73, in May 2021, although his family did not contact authorities.

Instead, using evidence gathered by Elliott’s father found decades ago, alongside Thomas Randele’s obituary, investigators began to piece together the story.

The obituary exposed identical birth dates – of July 10, 1947 – and identical information, such as the names of parents, which confirmed to authorities that they were the same person.

Father and Son Crack Robbery Case After 52 Years - Alamy Alamy

After finding a very similar signature too, Elliot went to visit Conrad’s family, feeling ‘bad for them because of a father-husband that they really never knew’.

On Saturday, November 13, Conrad’s daughter, Kathy Randele, said the family was ‘still mourning his loss’ and that Conrad had been ‘a fabulous father’.

There is no statue of limitations on bank robbery and Conrad was indicted, so his family will not be charged for not informing police of his confession.

Father and Son Crack Decades-Old Bank Robbery 3 - US Marshals Service.US Marshals Service

Peter last spoke to his father about the case in March 2020. John was in a hospice, and to cheer him up Peter played one of the episodes of documentary series, Lake Erie’s Coldest Cases, which featured the Conrad case.

Upon seeing himself on television in an interview for the case, John is reported to have smiled. He passed away a few days later.

Peter J. Elliott stated: 

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 never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.

He concluded, ‘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. Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.’

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Topics: News, Bank Robbery, Cleveland, Now

Credits

The New York Times
  1. The New York Times

    Father and Son Help Crack Unsolved 1969 Bank Robbery