In Boston, a family man made a “deathbed confession” to his wife of 40 years and daughter, revealing he has been a fugitive for half a century. He is wanted for one of the largest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history.
Thomas Randele, a devoted family man, luxury car dealer, and golfer who always played by the rules, made a startling confession to his wife of 40 years, as well as his daughter, near the end of his life.
Authorities would later describe it as a “deathbed confession.”
Randele told his family that, for the past 50 years, he had been a fugitive wanted in one of their largest bank robberies in the history of Cleveland, ABC 7 reported.
By the time Randele died in May 2021 at 71, lung cancer had taken away his voice.
A father and son from the U.S. Marshals Service never gave up the hunt. In mid-November of 2021, US Marshal Peter Elliott said he had solved the mystery of the Cleveland bank robbery that his father, John Elliott, had investigated decades ago.
On Friday, July 11, 1969, Theodore Conrad, a 20-year-old teller at Society National Bank on Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio, left his job with $215,000 in stolen cash, Cleveland.com reports. Adjusting for inflation, the amount would be worth about $1.7 million in today’s money.
Across the country, federal agents tried to track down the young man who had graduated from Lakewood High School in the class of 1967. But Conrad had vanished after pulling off one of the biggest heists in Cleveland’s history.
According to reports by the U.S. Marshals, Conrad had been consumed with the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a movie about a bank executive who pulled off a $2.6 million bank heist, starring Steve McQueen (a 1999 remake starred Pierce Brosnan).
Friends say Conrad began mimicking McQueen’s character in the film, driving an M.G. sports car, drinking expensive jam, and showing off at golf and billiards.
“He always thought of himself as being like Steve McQueen in that movie,” a former classmate said.
Marshals say Conrad first shoplifted to prove he could do it. He had told friends how easy it would be, saying if he took the money from the bank on a Friday, he would have a two day start before anyone realized there had been a robbery. They thought he was blowing smoke, but he did as he said.
On Friday, July 11, Conrad called a friend saying he was planning on robbing the bank that day, as his supervisor was away having surgery. Conrad told the friend, “security was lax… It wouldn’t be hard.”
Later that evening, after robbing the bank, authorities said Conrad left his apartment, took a cab to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and was gone by 8:30 PM.
Letters sent to Conrad’s girlfriend at the time showed he made stops in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles within the first week.
In order to remain hidden, Conrad cut off contact with his entire family, including his parents and three siblings. Some family members eventually presumed he was dead after so many years had passed.
Six months after the heist, Conrad changed his name to Randele.