LYNNFIELD - After more than 50 years on the run from police, a Lynnfield manbefore he passed away in 2021. Ted Conrad robbed an Ohio bank of $215,000 in 1969 before fleeing to Massachusetts and changing his identity. Now, his daughter is sharing his story on a new podcast called "Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad."
"They talk about him being on the run, but really it was running away," said Ashley Randele, Conrad's daughter. "We find out more in the investigation, it was less about the money itself, but using the money to get away from the life he had and start over."
Ashley Randele grew up in Lynnfield. To her, her father Thomas Randele was a luxury car salesman.
"At one point his face was on TV on a car commercial in the late 90s early 2000s," said Randele. "Friends he knew for 20, 30, 40, 50 years couldn't believe it."
Thomas Randele's real name is Ted Conrad. In the late 1960's, he was a vault teller for Society National Bank in Cleveland. His job meant that he had access to the vault.
"We know from talking to his friends, he used to joke about how easy it would be to take money from the bank," said Randele. "[His ex-girlfriend] told us they went into the vault, and were just holding piles of money, and nobody knew."
He walked in on a Friday and put $215,000 in a bag and walked out with the money, and a bottle of alcohol. The company never took his fingerprints when he took the job, which helped him remain unidentified.
"It wasn't that they missed fingerprinting him. It wasn't that a common practice the way it is now," said Randele.
Ted Conrad was a fan of the bank robbery film "The Thomas Crown Affair." US Marshals say he watched it half a dozen times that year. Conrad fled to Lynnfield in 1970 and lived in a home on Carter Road. Ironically, it's not terribly far from where the movie was filmed.
"When he showed up in Boston in 1970, he showed up to the registrar's office and got a social security card," said Randele. "He said, 'I don't have one. I just moved here.' They said, 'Hey young kid, here you go. He had a valid social security card, and with that you can do anything."
From then on, he was Thomas Randele, which Ashley believes may be a nod to two names from key Steve McQueen characters. McQueen played Thomas Crown in the aforementioned movie and was Josh Randall in CBS's Wanted Dead or Alive.
While Conrad now had the social security card for Thomas Randele, he couldn't get a passport without a birth certificate.
"Looking back, I can say, 'Oh, I can see with a different perspective,'" said Randele.
When Ashley was younger, her French Club at school had a trip to France, and she wanted her father to go as a chaperone. It was partially subsidized by the school, so Conrad couldn't lean on money as an excuse not to go.
"He said who wants to go to France? We said what? Everybody?" remembered Randele. "He said, 'I just want to explore the U.S. I don't need to leave. Now I realize, he couldn't go because you had to have a birth certificate to get a passport."
In February of 2021, Conrad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. He passed away in May of that year, but not before revealing his secret to his family.
"Mom, Dad and I were sitting in the living room watching NCIS his favorite cop show," said Randele. "Out of the blue, he said, 'Ladies I need to tell you something in case it ever comes up. When I moved here, I had to change my name. The authorities are probably still looking for me. I don't want to talk about it, but I just want you to know in case something comes up."
Ashley demanded he at least tell her his real name, so she could know her real last name. He agreed, as long as she didn't pursue his past.
"He was a cool as a cucumber guy, but he looked scared and said, 'My name is Ted," said Randele.
That night she couldn't hold back, and she looked up his name only to discover articles of the bank heist. After he passed away, Ashley and her mother planned to wait a year to grieve before contacting police. Before they could pick up the phone, law enforcement showed up on their doorstep in November of 2021.
"Thankfully the first words he said were, "You are not in trouble. We just need to have a conversation," said Ashley.
The first episode of "Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad" was released on Monday. More episodes will be released each week.
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