Often, there are intriguing tales of “deathbed” proclamations. Some involve private secrets or a lifelong failure to divulge little indiscretions. For whatever reason, some people really do adhere to the theory of “take it to the grave”.
Well, apparently one suburban Boston man decided he would rather not have a particularly weighty transgression weighing on his dying conscience. Ted Conrad, or Thomas Randele to his unsuspecting family of 40 years, was the true epitome of “the fugitive”.
The story started to unfold when a bunch of “Randele’s” friends visited the ailing man at his home before he passed. Randele’s cancer had progressed so rapidly he was unable to speak. What was yet known was that Randele had lived a fictitious life his entire time in Boston.
Randele, aka Conrad, was actually wanted for one of the biggest unsolved bank robberies in U.S. history. Since 1969, Conrad was a wanted fugitive. As Ted Conrad, he worked as a bank teller for Society National Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.
Whether out of a trill for excitement or strategic ambition, Conrad noticed how weak the security protocols were at his bank. He even mentioned to childhood friends how easy he felt it would be to pull off a robbery at SNB. One day after his 20th birthday, Conrad decided to do it.
Upon the death of Thomas Randele in Boston, Conrad got away with it too. After walking out of the bank with $215,000, a heist worth well over $1 million today, Conrad flew around the country for a while. He bounced from town to town, diligently covering his tracks.
He severed all ties to his real family. His own mother thought he was dead, but never really knew for certain. She thought she would die never knowing what happened to her son. When Conrad pulled off his caper, most of the world was focused on the Apollo 11 moon flight.
Most people, including Clevelanders, paid the robbery little attention. However, Deputy U.S. Marshal John Elliot took the case personally. He tracked Conrad, to no avail, for decades. Elliot’s son Pete even inherited the case from his father.
The elder Elliot died before investigators tied Randele’s obituary with pieces of the decades-old robbery investigation. Just after his death, Randele’s family felt compelled to tell U.S. Marshals what he had revealed before dying.
Deathbed pronouncements are often startling. Frequently, they involve clandestine affairs or unscrupulous deeds. However, it’s probably not too common that a deathbed proclamation involves something as startling as what Thomas Randele revealed.
Oddly enough, movie moguls made a film in 1968, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, which some say inspired Randele to pull off the heist. Until he changed his identity in 1970, Ted Conrad was a young man from Cleveland, Ohio. One fateful day in 1969, Ted Conrad started to slowly die.
He ultimately was reborn as Thomas Randele. For over 50 years, federal authorities hunted for the man who orchestrated one of the most prolific bank heists in U.S. history. Across those 50 years, Randele kept Conrad’s secret.
Hidden inside the facade was a 40-year marriage and a family that never knew. For whatever reason, Thomas Randele didn’t want to take the secrets of Ted Conrad with him to the grave. Imagine the astonishment to find out a husband has never been who he said he was.
Take a look at this video from 2015 about U.S. Marshals still looking for him.