Father-son duo solves decades-long bank robbery mystery inspired by classic movie

A father-son duo has cracked a bank robbery case from over 50 years ago. 

John K. Elliott, a U.S. Marshal veteran, and his son, Peter, have solved a bank robbery mystery that has baffled investigators for decades. It was one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history.

Credits: U.S. Marshals Service

On July 11, 1969, Theodore J. Conrad robbed a bank, stealing $215,000 in cash, equating to around $1.6 million today, as per Unilad.

On November 12, 2021, Peter, who proudly followed in his father’s footsteps, alongside the U.S. Marshals Service, announced that the robber was finally exposed.

According to The New York Times, Conrad has been living under the name of Thomas Randele om Lynnfield, Massachusetts since 1970. He also had a wife and a daughter. Tragically, he died in May this year from lung cancer.

After successfully switching up his identity, Conrad was a “law-abiding citizen” working for a luxury car dealership. 

Peter Elliot also discovered that the bank robber ironically enjoyed programs about law enforcement such as NCIS.

Another ironic fact about Conrad is that he stole the money from the bank he worked in. He was a bank teller at the Society National Bank in Cleveland, which had a poor security system at the time. On July 11, 1969, at the end of his shift, he took money from a vault and vanished. It wasn’t until a couple of days later, on July 14, when his colleagues saw the empty vault.

Curiously, it was uncovered that Conrad told his friends about his plan to rob the bank after becoming obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film, The Thomas Crown Affair. The movie portrays a billionaire suffering from boredom, leading him to rob a bank just for fun. Reportedly, Conrad believed it would be just as easy for him to do the same.

Credits: The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968 / IMDB

Peter explained:

“He was a darer, so to speak. After seeing that movie, I believe he thought, ‘Hey, what if I do this and get away with this?’ I really think it was a challenge for him to be able to do it.”

The truth about the 1969 robbery eventually came out when Conrad was on his deathbed. 

The robber did express regret over stealing from his employers in a confession letter to his girlfriend back in 1969. However, he managed to keep the secret for 52 years.

Credits: U.S. Marshals Service

But eventually, with the help of evidence found by Peter’s father decades ago, as well as Thomas Randele’s obituary, investigators connected the pieces and revealed it was indeed Conrad, the Cleveland bank robber.

Both Theodore J. Conrad and Thomas Randele had identical birth dates – July 10, 1947. What’s more, they had the same parents’ names and similar signatures, indicating they were actually the same person.

Credits: U.S. Marshals Service

After the grand reveal, Peter Eliot visited Conrad’s family feeling “bad for them because of a father-husband that they really never knew.” His daughter, Kathy Randele, said he was “a fabulous father” and that his relatives were “still mourning his loss.”

Commenting on the case, Peter stated:

“This is a case I know all too well. My father, John K. Elliott, was a dedicated career Deputy United States Marshal in Cleveland from 1969 until his retirement in 1990. […] My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.

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.”

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