They gather to say goodbye to a guy they call one of the best they’ve ever known – a devoted family man who talks about his daughter all the time, an athlete who plays sports. Golf never broke the rules, a friend of so many people that a straight line stretched outside the funeral home a week later.
By the time of their last visit last May at Randele’s home in suburban Boston, lung cancer had robbed him of his voice. So they all left without knowing that their friend had spent countless hours exchanging stories without ever telling them his biggest secret.
For the past 50 years, he’s been a fugitive in one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history, living in Boston under a new name he created six months after the theft in the summer of 1969. Not even his wife or daughter knew until he told them in what authorities described as a hospital bed confession.
How he was able to leave behind a family and create a new life – while hiding from a father and son from the US Police Agency who never gave up the hunt theirs – now being pieced together.
Ted Conrad quickly discovered that security was lax at the National Social Bank in Cleveland after he began working as a teller in January 1969.
He told his friends, “It would be very easy for me to go out with all kinds of money,” Russell Metcalf, his best friend since high school, said in an interview with The Associated Press. Press. They thought he was blowing smoke when he brought it up a few more times.
Then just a day after his 20th birthday in July of that year, Conrad walked out at closing time on Friday with a paper bag stuffed with $215,000 from the vault, valued at $1.6 million. nowadays.
On the following Monday, when the lost money was discovered, Conrad flew across the country. Letters to his girlfriend show that he made stops in Washington, DC and Los Angeles during the first week.
In one letter, he mistakenly thought he could return after seven years when the statute of limitations expired. But once he was prosecuted, that was no longer true.
Conrad seems to have cut off contact with his entire family, including his three siblings and parents, who are divorced. Matt Boettger, whose mother is Conrad’s older sister, said some family members eventually assumed he was dead because so many years had passed.
His mother, he said, was relieved more than anything to know her brother had lived a happy life. “She thought she was going to go to her grave and never knew,” he said.
The 1969 bank robbery didn’t get the attention of the nation, or even the city of Cleveland. Everyone else focused on Apollo 11’s historic flight to the moon that week.
But for John Elliott, a US vice marshal, it’s personal. He and Conrad were from the same side of town. Elliott once took his family to the ice cream parlor where Conrad worked. They shared a doctor.
The point is that Conrad’s initiation allowed him to disappear, and he was disciplined enough not to make any mistakes. The last reliable sighting occurred in October 1969, when a Cleveland couple visiting Hawaii met a man they later realized looked a lot like Conrad.
Elliott traveled across the United States looking for Conrad and even after his retirement in 1990 he would come into the office only about every week and look at the files, his son Pete Elliott is now the chief of police in the United States. Top United in Cleveland, heir hunt. Conrad almost 20 years ago.
His father died in March 2020 before investigators pieced together details from Randele’s obituary and signatures from his past. Then in November, Randele’s family confirmed that shortly before his death he told them his real identity and what he had done, Elliott said.
“It was always on my dad’s mind,” he said. “We’re continuing this case because it’s important to my father.”
Why Conrad committed the robbery has been analyzed endlessly.
“It wasn’t about money. He always wanted to impress people,” said Metcalf, his high school friend, who recalls Conrad once stealing a deck of cards just to prove he had it. body. “He’s not scared at all.”
Investigators believe he was inspired by the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” about a bank executive who stole $2.6 million and turned the theft into a robbery. a game.
Conrad watched the movie at least six times and copied Steve McQueen’s character, driving a sports car and drinking high-end alcohol, according to friends.
After the real-life robbery in Cleveland, Conrad was injured in the Boston area, where much of the film was shot. Elliott says he most likely chose his new name “Thomas”.
“He modeled his whole life after the movie,” he said.
The man known as Thomas Randele appeared in the first week of January 1970, investigators have found in recent weeks. That’s when Conrad walked into the Social Security Administration’s office in Boston, requested an identification number under his new name and made himself two years older, Elliott said.
At the time, it’s not uncommon to wait until you’re an adult, so his app doesn’t take off at all. With a new identification card, he could open a bank account, build credit and make a new life, Elliott said.
During the 1970s, Randele worked as a professional golf assistant, teaching at a country club outside of Boston and later becoming its manager. He spent several winters golfing in Florida, according to his obituary.
He also met his future wife not long after arriving in Boston. They got married in 1982.
Around that time, he began working in the car business, selling Land Rovers and Volvos at several dealerships until his retirement after nearly 40 years.
It was a job that put him face to face with dozens of strangers every day.
What’s not clear is what happened to the money. Marshals Service is looking into whether he will lose it soon due to bad investments.
While Randele and his wife, Kathy, lived most of their years in a pleasant suburb of Boston, they filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014. Court records show they subsequently owed the card. $160,000 credit and few assets.
His wife told Cleveland.com in November that her husband is a wonderful man and that she is still grieving. She declined interview requests.
No one would have expected that Randele, 71 years old when he died, was a man trying to hide from the authorities.
Elliott said that among the many people he made friends over the years was an FBI agent in Boston.
He never hides from anyone on the golf course or in auto showrooms, where he keeps a set of clubs and swings his 7-iron when sales slow.
Jerry Healy, who first met Randele at the Woburn, Massachusetts dealership, where they talked every day for many years, said: “He was just a nice guy, very polite and well-spoken.
The two were part of a group of five or six car salespeople who stuck together for most of their careers. None of them, Healy said, had ever suspected something like this in Randele’s past.
“It never made us understand, and it was a half-dozen guys who weren’t so easily fooled,” he said.
His former colleagues said they had never heard Randele speak ill of anyone or speak out about him. All said he was the best golfer they had ever known. Everyone wants him to be on their side when there’s a tournament.
Bob Van Wert, who first met Randele while playing golf and later worked with him is not an alcoholic and never bet side bets while playing.
They remember that he was always able to control his emotions and was rarely upset, even on the course, where he had such a beautiful swing that he once beat golfer Johnny Miller at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. a charity event, his former boss recalls.
Matt Kaplan, who managed the two dealerships where Randele worked and played golf with him every Sunday morning for many years, calls him the definition of a gentleman.
“The only way it makes sense is at that age he’s just a kid, and it’s kind of a challenge,” Kaplan said. “It’s not like he became a professional bank robber.”
“If he was going to tell us when to come back, I don’t think we would believe him because he’s not that kind of person,” he said. “The man is different from the child.”
In the early days after Randele’s identity was revealed, his friends couldn’t believe it. But looking back now, a few things made sense.
How he always has a beard. Photos of him wearing black sunglasses on the golf course. His reluctance to talk about where he grew up or his extended family.
“You know in all the years I’ve known Tommy, I’ve never heard him mention his sister or mother or brother or father. Everything is generalized,” Healy said.
Brad Anthony, another close friend, said: “You can never pry anything out of him. “I think maybe he had a bad childhood and he doesn’t want to talk about it.”
However, he said it was almost unbelievable. “It just seems very unusual for the Tom I know,” he said.
All his friends agree that what happened long ago hasn’t changed how they feel about him.
“The man I know doesn’t suddenly change because of something he did all his life,” says Healy. “He’s a good man, he’s my friend and I think he’s no less than me today before this happened. And I’d love to go play a round of golf with him.”
Copyright © 2021 by Associated Press. Copyright Registered.
https://abc13.com/fugitive-thomas-randele-obituary-ted-conrad-secret/11402870/ Secret fugitive: Thomas Randele, real name Ted Conrad, told family he was wanted by bank robber in ‘dying confession