An Ohio cold case that puzzled investigators for more than 50 years has finally been solved in Massachusetts.
On July 11, 1969, a 20-year-old man vanished after stealing $250,000 from a bank in Cleveland. The man walked out of the bank with the money in a paper bag, and it took bank employees two days to realize what had happened. By then, the bank robber was long gone, having created a mystery that would take five decades to solve.
Ted Conrad has been one of America's most wanted men since he committed the crime in 1969 while an employee at the Society National Bank in Cleveland.
It took more than half a century, but federal investigators finally solved the cold case this week, tracking the man down in the suburbs of Boston.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
“This week, we identified Thomas Randele as Theodore J. Conrad. He led an unassuming life in the suburbs of Boston,” announced Peter J. Elliott, a U.S. Marshal for northern Ohio whose dad was on the Conrad case during its early days.
Elliott had been looking for Conrad ever since he inherited the case and said he is thinking of his father now that the mystery has been solved.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020," Elliott said in a statement. "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."
According to federal investigators, they discovered just days ago that both Randele and Conrad were the same person.
U.S. Marshals wanted Conrad for one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland's history. Investigators say Conrad stole $1.7 million in today's money from the bank where he worked before disappearing.
“He left, on July 11, with $215,000 in a paper bag and was never seen again,” Elliott said.
Conrad was reportedly obsessed with the 1968 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” which shows a man pulling off the perfect crime at a Boston bank and likely inspired Conrad to emulate it. He was able to disappear with the money, and his story sparked such curiosity that it became a popular mystery, with the story being featuring on "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries."
“You couldn’t do what Ted Conrad did in 1969 today. There’s no way you could get away with it. First of all, you can’t create a name out of whole cloth anymore,” said James Renner, an investigative journalist who followed the case.
Investigators traveled across the country looking for him, but always came back empty-handed.
Finally, a breakthrough came. Last week, U.S. Marshals finally identified Conrad as Thomas Rendele, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts. The robber had moved to the Bay State in 1970, leading a normal life and avoiding capture for more than 50 years until he died from lung cancer in May 2021 at the age of 71, authorities said.
Many of the suspect's Lynnfield neighbors say they knew him for years and had no idea that he was one of America's most wanted fugitives.
“The biggest question is, ‘How did he pull it off? How did he — how did he remain hidden all this time?’” Renner asked.
Investigators from Cleveland say they were able to identify Conrad by matching documents he signed in the 60s to more recent court paperwork from a 2014 bankruptcy case, determining they were the same person.