Episode 20: Bank Robber Identified After 52 Years (1969)
2:40PM Jan 18, 2023
Welcome to Just curious media. This is that's a crime. I'm Jason Connell.
And I'm Sal Rodriguez.
Alright, so we are back for another crime. Yes. And
I need this type of crime. I need a crime with no casualties really, I my soul needed on this one. Fair
enough. I can't make promises. There will be more of those. But today we're gonna be breaking down the True Crime Story of the bank robber identified after 52 years in 1969.
Yeah, these people that hide out in plain sight. I mean, you're thinking if you're running from the law, you got to be in some village somewhere, you know, paying off the local mayor. But yeah, these people they're living in regular cities living right near us. Yeah.
This came across my radar. And I was fascinated. I think I just love bank robber stories. There's something about it, and this one caught my eye. We were gonna do it last week, but it worked out better to do tonight. And super excited.
I think you may have a bit of a fantasy JSON.
I've seen too many bank heist movies. The perfect crime, Dog Day Afternoon, the inside man, and so many others. But alright, I'm ready to jump in.
Jason, you think maybe most people have fantasized about pulling off a heist?
Maybe once in their life? I want to do it. I just like to see it done. Well, no, no.
Like I said, it's a fantasy. Yeah. Total fantasy. Do you think people are standing in the bank? Like, how could I rob this place?
I know. I'd be too intimidated. The cameras everywhere. We had to do it like in the 60s or 70s. That was the time well, and here we are. That was the window. Here we are. So Theodore John Conrad born July 10 1949. Died. May 18 2021 was an American criminal who stole $215,000. So you got that inflation calculator ready?
Oh, yes. $215,000 is now in 20 $21 $1.7 million. And by the way, you and I love inflation calculator. I was reading an article a random article the other day. And within the article, the person said, and in today's dollars that would be and I liked it. I really liked that they did that because it gives you a frame of reference.
Yeah, this is a lot of money. Because he stole this from a Cleveland bank in July 1969. So yeah, $250,000 1.7 Now you get an idea of how much he took. Oh, yeah. Well, he was never apprehended and he lived out his life under an assumed name in Massachusetts, avoiding capture for more than five decades until he was identified after his death by the son of one of the original investigators was out. I love this crime and these types of crimes as we just said, but this one,
this is like a movie. I liked the multigenerational detective. Yeah, exactly. I'm thinking who would play that in the movie, you
say you're already going there. And there's more about them as we get to that point. So early life Conrad was born in Denver, Colorado, the son of Edward and Ruth Beth Conrad, his parents divorced why Conrad was an elementary school. And he moved with his mother and sister to Lakewood, Ohio. Now by high school, Conrad had become quite popular amongst his peers and was elected to the student council. He was also thought to be very bright with an IQ of 135, which is moderately gifted. I was looking at the scales today, Sal, but have you ever taken one of those IQ test?
But actually, Jason I have. I was officially screened, I guess I was so young. I was about 10 or 11. Yeah. And I took a battery of tests. I was then sent to the gifted magnet, middle spa. And by the way, that was not a good thing. That was was it was not good. He regretted it immediately. I was sort of a little superstar of the elementary school. And then all of a sudden, they took me to this. I didn't know anybody. I had to get bused over there. It was all downhill from there. Let's put it that way. Oh, wow. Well, I
took one of those tests, and it told me to study harder. So
you're athletic. You don't need to have lunches
kid. I never. I never took those. Although I do remember a lot of testing when you're a kid. And you're right about that. Sometimes it's like, oh, no, we're gonna move you up to grades or weird things. And this is a long time ago. Of course, my mother was like, no, no, no, he needs to be amongst his age group. Because that happened. They do that type of thing. And all sudden your social skills would lack.
Yeah. Well, you know, because later on, they started getting into things like EQ, emotional quotient, yeah, they were wrapped up in IQ for a long time, then they started getting into EQ. So if you were to go back in time, you could probably identify yourself as a child, were you high IQ, low EQ or whatever. Yeah, in recent times out there on the job search, a lot of companies going into them personality tests, personality quizzes, that became a big thing like 1015 years ago. So it seems to be some sort of fetish that us humans have of testing people trying to categorize them trying to figure them out. But I think that if anything, we've learned that you can't really figure people out and tests may not be too accurate.
Case in point here. So so after graduating in 1967, Conrad attended New England College in New Hampshire for a semester before transferring to ca Aya hoga Community College in Ohio. And I saw an interesting point here is that one semester he had a New England is where he would be hiding from much of his life. I just wonder if that like planted the seed like, okay, that he's back in Ohio. So now we're getting into the bank robbery and early 1969, Conrad went to work at the society National Bank headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. He worked in the cash vault as a teller, and his job involved packaging money to be delivered to branches around town. It was a position for a trusted employee. Hey, sounds like a pretty cool job. So
yeah. And be careful with those people that you trust, because they might let you down.
Fair enough. Well, according to a summary report, compiled years later by the US Marshal Service to all appearances, Conrad was that all American boy whose character was not question and seem to be a model of responsibility during a turbulent time. Now I'm assuming they're talking about the Vietnam War. This is 69 That was a turbulent time that our country was in.
Yeah, wasn't there also civil rights movement happening around
all that? Yeah, exactly. It was a weird tough time, tumultuous time. And so here's this guy looks the part likable, smart, young, ambitious. No one's gonna question this guy. Right.
You know, what I'm reminded of is the beginning of psycho. Oh, yeah. Was trusted and trusted Yes. Hash at this real estate firm. And then she takes off. Spoiler alert, she takes off and then winds up at the Bates Motel. But similar what it does, it goes from a heist to a murder film. Is that called embezzlement? Does the phrase embezzlement is that covered by this? Do you think or is it something different? And psycho? No, but I mean, like, if you say the employee embezzled money is that just
when we get we get into that is definitely one of the terms for sure. Okay. So on Friday, July 11 1969, Conrad who had turned 20 years old, on the day before, went to the vault and stuffed that $250,000 in cash. So how much is that again in 20 $21,
in 20 $21 1.7 million, which, by the way, is enough to set you up. If you can hide it. Well, if you can launder it, I guess, think about if you had that money, cash, you'd have to keep that safe. If you did go to a foreign country, how do you keep it safe? It's complicated becomes very complicated. You can have to try to wrap it up in crypto somehow. I think
I would take Bitcoin Yes, yeah. Well, he put that $250,000 in a paper bag and walked off with it now tougher to do with 1.7. But anyway, 69, so he's got to earn $50,000. Now the loss was discovered only the following Monday, giving him a two day Headstart. And this is back in the day, right. This is the 60s and so things aren't as electronically tracked and all that. Wait, well,
Jason, this happened on a Friday. It did. Okay. He had the advantage that banks were not open on Saturdays. And now most branches are open. Oh, absolutely.
Yeah. He had that lead time for sure. So if
you did the study, you'd have to do it on Saturday.
Yeah, you would. And hopefully, like Monday was closed for a holiday. That
would be good. Yeah, there. You need that lead time. You're right. Yeah. Well, there
was little security at the bank and Conrad had never been fingerprinted immediately after his disappearance was discovered. A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. In September 1969, Conrad was indicted in federal court on charges of embezzlement and making a false entry in the records of the bank. So I guess he also like fudged some numbers like oh, yeah, this is accounted for. Yes, yes. Now, so a two day Headstart, it's something at the same time. You've got to be plotting ahead. You don't just do this and go. I got two days. I gotta figure this out. Yeah. Also, fingerprints are not the minute you don't show up for work. And there's money missing. You did it?
Yeah. I'm interested in that timeline. So Monday morning, they open up the bank. Hey, happy Monday, everybody. Who's here who's not here? And then what do you do an automatic count? Do they do a count every morning? I wonder because I remember we're dealing with cash. So
they may not have found it right away. I mean, he was packaging money to go around to the places that I Conrad's not here and they're not putting it together. But yeah, I'm sure someone's like, hey, well, those funds over there at the other society bank, and then I'm sure it snowballed from there. Then there's like Conrad couldn't have done this.
Yeah. Well, where is he? Are you are you calling him call his emergency contacts that are on his on his application?
Exactly. Now, prior to the theft, Conrad had been obsessed with the 1968 film that Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen as a millionaire bank robber. Sal, have you ever seen this movie?
No, no, I've heard of it, though. I know it's a famous movie and I at this point, I got to see it but no, I have heard of it. And I have heard of the remake as well.
Right. I was gonna say I have definitely seen the 1999 version with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo great film, and yeah, I need to see the original now for sure. But Conrad saw it more than half a dozen times and bragged to his friends about how easy it would be to take money from the bank and even told them he planned to do so. This guy, you know what, I'm gonna I work at a bank, it'd be easy to rob a bank. I'm gonna rob that bank.
I wonder if people just thought he was kidding. Like, yeah, I think that if I were to go around saying that people are so always cracking jokes. I don't think they would take me seriously. It was it was that people just didn't take them seriously. Because I would think if somebody worked at a bank and started joking around like that, I after a while, I would start to take them seriously.
If you start to say you're gonna rob that toy factory. I know. It may happen.
Jason. As you can see, I did Rob.
It's already happened.
It's already on the run, right?
He is hiding in plain sight. Look at his
toys, no one would know I shaved my head. Do you want to identify me?
So in 1969, Conrad even confessed to his role in the robbery in a letter to his girlfriend and express regret for the crime. So that's interesting. As I'm assuming the robbery ended the relationship. I'm assuming he didn't include a postmark address to the girlfriend from wherever he was at this point in time.
Well, if he really is a moderately gifted, utterly good IQ, I don't think he would but also I am interested in the fact that they weren't so that what they were dating. Yep, he wrote the letter. Then he vanished or he had already vanished and wrote the letter and then she received the letter. Yeah. Wow. Interesting. She
got a Dear John letter and he was gone.
I wonder what he's experiencing regret about you can argue this last night a victimless crime. I guess the bank's a victim I guess but no injuries of victims. Nobody kidnapped nobody tied up. Right. So the most let's smooth criminal so far on DB Cooper style. Yeah, this is db Cooper style and similar era. This is only what two years ahead of DB Cooper. So exactly. A good time to be a criminal. I'm thinking late 60s, early 70s. But right away, yes. I'm it's a good time for a heist, and that's a great time expressed regret for the crime. I'm really just made because it just changed his life. And we'll get into some more. So it wasn't a morality that maybe like,
wow, I am not welcome there. I can no longer be myself. I'm not in that relationship. I can't just bounce down the street and say my parents and yeah, he deviated from whatever path he was on.
He should have like, went back immediately. Just kidding. Just kidding. I just seen if I could do it, yeah. Just wanted to test the security. Yeah, like that
movie sneakers. So now after the robbery, Conrad first went to Washington, DC, before moving to Los Angeles. And then in 1970, he settled in Massachusetts. So I think I would have avoided DC and La altogether and perhaps kept a lower profile. Those are big, populated cities, but he probably figured that out in the end.
But is it one of those things where you want to go to the populated cities, you want to go kind of get lost? That's the idea. Right?
Also, your money is gonna go faster in LA, that's for sure.
Well, okay, so that's what I think I said earlier is like, okay, so you have money, you pull off the heist. Now, where do you go, you want to stretch the money out? Because obviously, you got to go into hiding, so this money's got to last. I'm thinking I'd have to go to Canada, Mexico, those are drivable. Yeah. If you got a trunk full of cash, or a paper bag in this instance, okay, above paper bag, and a car, but you can get to other nations from the United States. You can't go to Asia or Europe without a ship or a plane. So you'd have to be somewhere drivable, but that's what I'm thinking is like, you got to what now the whole thing is like, what now? What do I do now?
Well, yeah, if he's been plodding forever, when he was watching The Thomas Crown Affair, I'm sure he had ideas. So obviously, he's kind of going loose cannon. He's in DC is in LA. He hasn't been grounded yet. But then to Massachusetts, and shortly after moving to Massachusetts, Conrad assume the name. Thomas Randall not spelled ra n D, E, L. E, I'm assuming south at the secondary silent.
Okay. I thought it was like a member Seinfeld Vandelay. Brother. This was like Randall
Thomas, randomly. So in 1982, Conrad was married and the couple had a daughter. He then took a job at the pin broke Country Club, starting as a golf pro and rising to manager. So it would appear that Conrad has been playing plenty of golf over the last decade to become a golf pro.
Yeah, that doesn't happen overnight. Unless you're some sort of prodigy. He's got a
lot of money to burn time on his hands. He's living the life. Yeah. Well, Conrad would also work for numerous luxury automotive dealerships for roughly 40 years. That must have been his bread and butter. So this guy's got the stash, and then has a career a couple of careers going. Apparently he was well liked by local police and led a law abiding life. Now, this and the lack of fingerprints hampered the hunt. went for him. Now. So I believe and we said this earlier, this is so much the term hiding in plain sight. You couldn't do it any better than this guy. Right? I'm a local fixture in the community. People know me. I'm the Golf Pro, and I'm also selling the luxury cars and my name is Randall secondees. Silent. It kind of reminds me of Gus from Breaking Bad, played by John Carlo Esposito as he owned and operated the famous Los Pollos Hermanos. And in that show, the police loved him. The community loved him, and they had no idea he was a secret of drug lord. I mean, he did it to a tee. And this guy is on that path. Conrad.
Okay, so Conrad and Gian Carlo Esposito both have the cover? Yes. And that's very smart. That is a very smart thing to do. Because I probably wouldn't know how to sell pay his bills. He doesn't seem to do anything. I don't exactly
yeah. What does he is he still in those toys? How's he making it? Totally right. Remember the coin thief. He had a job. He had a low paying job and he had this luxury home.
He had all the accoutrements of a rich person. Yeah, he didn't have the job of a rich person who
is making all these jobs up. Now I do this and I do that. It's like, oh, my gosh,
they gotta go together. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So now under the investigation and post mortem discovery. While Conrad raised his family and Massachusetts law enforcement continued to hunt for him. Go figure. Agents from all FBI field offices joined in the search, compiling notes and documentation that filled 20 binders to search for Conrad spent 52 years as investigators followed leads that took them to Washington, DC, Inglewood, California, West Texas, Oregon and Honolulu. In recent years, he was featured on America's Most Wanted and unsolved mysteries. So had you ever heard of this case before? Probably not. But this got some big press.
I have never heard of this case before he brought it to my attention. But I'm also reminded again of the DB Cooper case, because totally because you think about all the time and resources, right that you have to spend to try to catch somebody who stole a certain amount and meanwhile, you've already gotten over that amount. In the
budget. He spent $2.7 million on the manhunt. Yeah, interest. I now I know the money has already been written off. But it becomes someone else's quest in life. And we'll get to that it gets personal. Yes, yes. Which becomes the movie factor. Yeah. So the hunt for Conrad went on for so long that one of the deputy US Marshals involved in the original investigation, John K. Eliot was succeeded on the case by his son, Peter J. Elliott, who became US Marshal of the Northern District of Ohio, in 2003. So I like how US Marshals can just hand things off to a family member. Yeah, I'm gonna tap out. Just take over. Sal, you got me?
Yeah. Because I guess the father retires. Right. It doesn't say he's he passed away. No, no, not yet. Okay. So he retires? The son takes over his jurisdiction, I guess and starts going over to files. Yeah. I wonder if there's a bunch of them that he was trying to solve her. He had that one in particular,
they probably worked on it together for a long time. Oh, no father son combo.
Very interesting. Yeah. Who would play the father who would play the son? That would be an interesting casting session?
Yeah. Give me some time on that, but it's percolating. So now despite his retirement, so there you go. John Elliott continued to search for Conrad until his death in March 2020. So he just kept working on the side, probably calling Peter. Hey, I think I got a lead here. And then of course, he died March 2020. So I mean, that's right. When COVID Hit country, and it was a lot of deaths, right. I think I don't know if it's related or not. So the case remain cold until November 2021. So very recently, so when Peter Elliott determined that Conrad had been living as Randall in Linfield, Massachusetts, which is just outside of Boston, Conrad had died of lung cancer on May 18. Of 2021. telling his family his real identity on his deathbed. Wow. So that had to come as a shocker. And I wonder if any of them started hiding their assets right away?
Wait, okay, well, okay, that that gets complex. Because, yeah, totally. You'd be like, well, he gave me a car two years ago. Are they gonna come and take that away? Yeah, we have this date. Yeah. Because this is where you get into, I guess, the laundering because you he steals the money, then the money becomes part of his life becomes part of his assets goes down to his heirs. Right? And then the feds come in and how do they what do they do to the heirs? Do they take their houses away? I mean, how does all that work becomes very complex. Actually
also mention that none of that is shared here. I do not know what that part of the investigation. They've got their man and we're going to continue on the story. But we don't get into that. That is fascinating. If we ever find out anything more about that, we will come back and do a follow up. But we'll continue on this path.
But Jason, what do you think also, if DB Cooper on his deathbed said, I'm DB Cooper, well, that's a famous name. So what did this guy say, hey, there was a case, they didn't know about this case. And they don't even know his real name. Yeah. So what did he say? 52 years ago, there was a bank robbery at this time in this place. And they probably didn't have to research it. Right. Yeah. He could
have said, My real name is this. Obviously, he's spent his majority of his life as this Randall,
right. Holy cow. I just realized this. The kids in here in the deathbed confession realize I'm not randomly. Yeah, exactly. That's not my name.
I don't go randomly. We're going Randall Randall.
I'm not random.
Yeah, exactly. Everything changes, Conrad. Yeah. And these kids are getting their 23andme or whatever that's called. They're going down the wrong path.
Exactly. They don't have to submit their DNA. Their dad's telling them their whole family tree, and their mouths are hanging open, I'm sure.
So now Elliott was tipped off to Conrad's whereabouts by an obituary for Rando, which listed his birth date is July 10 1947, when his real birth date was July 10 1949. As mentioned earlier, additionally, his parents first names we would insure it,
yeah. I believe that falls into the sign of cancer. Yeah, you love being a cancer, he gotta stay there. You didn't want it. Interesting choice.
Alright, so he changed his birth date two years. And and the obituary, his parents first names Edward and Ruth Beth. And it also mentioned New England College, which were all Conrad's, you know, part of his actual life history. His mother's maiden name, which we haven't talked about yet was Kruger was also listed. And Conrad signature obtained by investigators from a college application also was highly similar, very similar to Randles. Now, so I guess you can't take our secrets to your grave. And this leads to more questions such as, did Conrad keep in touch with his mother, father and sister over the years, because this is a lot like being in the witness protection program. He becomes Randall, he has a whole new life, he's got money, he's got these jobs as part of the community. But if he's keeping tabs with them, they know who robbed the bank, you know, and I'm gonna how tight they're being watched. So I don't know the answer to this, but it's fascinating to me. So if he doesn't have a touch with them, his kids don't even know their grandparents, their aunt, etc, etc, etc. It's crazy.
Well, I once had a friend confide in me one night, we were in our early 20s. He and I were drinking hanging out. He confides in me in tears. He says, he found out that his father had a whole separate family on the side. And his family then just found out about he have siblings, half siblings. Gosh, so yeah. And also, of course, going back to six feet under one of our favorite shows. Well, yes. After Mr. Fisher passed away in the he found a secret apartment.
That's right. The apartment? Oh, yeah. Oh, boy. You
don't know what people have. But I am fascinated by deathbed confessions, because apparently these people want to get rid of this. Yeah, they wait to the last minute, but they carry that with them. And I guess it was indeed a burden.
I don't even know if it was the bank robber who was trying to confess it's just, here's my real name. Here's our heirs, you would feel guilty about that. And I'm shocked it didn't come up sooner. I mean, this is just what we're getting here. But it sounds like he held it tight until that moment. Now, lastly, it was reported that Conrad's family will not be charged for not alerting the authorities to his confession doesn't get into the assets and all that which again, will keep an eye out if anything ever surfaces. Now, Elliott has not disclosed how he learned of the obituary, but he did share this. I hope my father is resting a little easier today, knowing his investigation and his United States Marshal Service brought closure to this decades long mystery.
That's a great father, son moment, so
good. And again, we talked about this along the way. And a movie that comes to mind a great movie, which I used to watch all the time is the future of Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones. And that movie, though he's truly innocent. He's trying to prove his innocence. But you really get into you're following his storyline. You're for him. And you're also for the US Marshal Service. And Tommy Lee Jones, his character. So I love that dynamic. And that could be the same here like you want to see this bank robber succeed. But you also want to see how the US Marshals and the father son combo, and I think it's a movie man in the making. This is a fresh story. Well, I mean, it's 52 years in the making, but it's fresh now.
I like the idea of cops and criminals, kind of respecting each other. Yeah, they don't hate each other. They each have their job to do and they need each other. Yeah, they do. It's one of those. You and I aren't very different. You know what
I've seen in so many movies and it works. You have compassion for both the criminal and the person trying to put them away. He is the same movie and not to say Movie The same idea. But you have dinero and his crew the rob the banks great scenes in LA the big shootouts, and Pacino's crews trying to pop them. And they even have coffee one time, no one one day, they're gonna meet what was going down. Like that's a great film they make that make the heat of this. We don't have the big shoot out. But there's a lot of cat and mouse. And I mean, you could have the deathbed scene.
I'm trying to think I don't think there's been a great deathbed scene since Citizen Kane.
That's great film.
Good start here.
So that's all I got on the bank robber identified after 52 years. 1969. Fascinating story.
We're going into script writing mode now.
And again, this, nobody died. Nobody was injured. Nobody was tied up. Nobody's kidnapped. Nobody was threatened. There was no ransom. Now this guy got away with a fairly perfect heist. He did have to forego everything else and start a brand. Maybe
maybe his family. We don't know. He could have got word to them. And the family could have just we don't know. We hope not.
Yeah. Well, because then that holds the family culpable. Is what that does that if that's Yes, exactly. And we don't want to think that that this is a whole conspiracy, that we hope it wasn't a whole conspiracy with the family. I mean, what did they get out of it? Then? Before you had the kids? There is yes. Family. His mother
father, sister. Yeah, I hope that they were commutative. They maybe moved to Massachusetts, I don't know. And who knows. They didn't live as long as he did, probably, but his sister could still be alive or lived longer. But well done. Theater John Conrad Charan Thomas Randall, you called your shot. You were a big fan of Thomas Crown Affair. You did it. And you lived 52 years and then finally confessed and got away with it. Essentially, he got away with it. dB Cooper style.
I bet you there's hidden clues in the movies. Right. Oh, it's kind of fair. There's there's some hidden stuff in there probably related to the case. Yeah, little tips that he probably took and utilized. So we have to go and watch that film we made. Yeah, I do want to see that. Start with the original, I guess and then work your way up.
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