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This Story of A Bank Robber Who Died After 52 Years Eluding The Law In A Double Life Where He Became A Golf Pro & Best Friend To An FBI Agent Might Be My Favorite Story Of 2021

CBS Boston - A man wanted for one of the biggest bank robberies in the history of Cleveland, Ohio eluded authorities for 52 years by settling down in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Friday they have solved the mysterious disappearance of Ted Conrad. Conrad was a 20-year-old teller at a bank in Cleveland when he left work on July 11, 1969 with $215,000 and was never seen again.

Investigators searched for him for years, chased leads across the country and even featured him on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.

The U.S. Marshals said the case stayed cold until this week when they came to Massachusetts and positively identified him as Thomas Randele of Lynnfield.

“From what I know about him and what I learned, he was a great family man, he was friends with the police in those areas, and from my understanding even friends with federal agents in that area,” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. “Nobody knew his true identity. He was literally the man living next door that nobody really knew.”

Randele died of lung cancer in May. The Marshals said they were able to match documents that Conrad had filled out in the 1960’s with documents Randele had written, including when he filed for bankruptcy protection in Boston in 2014.

“I’m still grieving the loss of my husband, who was a great man,” his wife Kathy Randele told Cleveland.com.

The Marshals said Conrad was obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” which was about a millionaire businessman who robbed banks for fun.

“Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies,” Elliott said. Elliott’s father was also a U.S. Marshal who spent decades searching for Conrad before his death in 2020.

The Independent and the New York Times each did awesome, full-length stories on this guy that are well worth the read. 

This is the dream right here. And Ted Conrad, aka Thomas Randele, lived it. 

You know how every time you're in a bank you start thinking of ways and what-ifs to rob it? When you're talking with the teller the thought of how easy it would be to pull off if you had their job?

Well, Ted/Thomas walked the walk.

He was a teller at Society National Bank in Cleveland. On a Friday afternoon, while the entire world was home glued to their televisions watching the launch of Apollo 11 he stuffed a paper bag full of money, $215,000 cash, from the bank's vault, closed the bank, and left. 

He went straight to the airport and hopped a plane to Boston, MA. The same place his favorite movie, which inspired his heist, The Thomas Crown Affair, took place.

By Monday morning, as his co-workers opened the vault and wondered where Ted/Thomas was. But he was already two days ahead of them, bunkered down in Boston, when the discovered the missing money and connected the dots.

Back in 1969 banks were basically just asking to be robbed. They didn't even fingerprint their own employees, and Ted/Thomas knew the ins-and-outs on how to pull it off. So he did it. All by himself. 

Once in Boston, Ted wrote a letter to his girlfriend breaking up with her, and cut off all ties to his family and friends.

He assumed a new name, Thomas Randele (nod to Thomas Crown), applied for a new social security number, and began his new life.

He lived between Boston and Lynnfield, Massachusetts for five decades, and even his wife and children didn't know his story.

Randele got a job at a country club outside Boston. When he wasn't working he was playing. And he managed to work his way up to being a course pro. He met his future wife Kathy around the same time and the couple got married in 1982.

Randele then started working in the car business, selling for a dealership in Woburn, (I searched everywhere for which one but couldn't find. Gonna put my money on Herb Chambers) which he continued until his retirement after nearly 40 years.

One of his best friends he made over the years was an FBI agent in Boston.

Jerry Healy described Randele as “a gentle soul, you know, very polite, very well spoken.” Mr Healy first met Randele at a Woburn, Massachusetts, dealership where they talked daily for years.

His friends and acquaintances said that it is difficult to process his real identity.

“The only way it makes sense is that at that age he was just a kid, and it was a challenge kind of thing,” said Matt Kaplan, who managed two dealerships where Randele worked and golfed with him for many years.

Mr Healy however said, “You know all the years I knew Tommy, I never heard him mention a sister or a mother or a brother or a father.”

Sure thing Jerry. Just admit you got played.

Giphy Images.

This guy never had to look over his shoulder, or stay on the move, or deal with any of the drama that comes with robbing a bank usually. He just lived the suburban life. Was probably a monster Bruins and Sox fan (Cleveland had no hockey, and the Indians stunk) and probably splurged on season tickets every year. Aside from that, he probably drove a Dodge Stratus, made love missionary style to his wife once a week on Saturday nights, drank Coors Lights on the course, and was prouder of his handicap than just about anything else.

And he made it to finish line without getting caught. Good for Ted Conrad/Thomas Randele.