Friends, household surprised that Thomas Randele, Boston automobile salesman, was fugitive financial institution robber needed in Cleveland for 50 years

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Just earlier than Thomas Randele died, his spouse of almost 40 years requested his {golfing} buddies and his co-workers from the dealerships the place he bought vehicles to come back by their residence.

They gathered to say goodbye to a man they known as one of many nicest folks they’d ever identified — a loyal household man who gushed about his daughter, a golfer who by no means bent the foundations, a buddy to so many {that a} line stretched exterior the funeral residence every week later.

By the time of their last go to final May at Randele’s home in suburban Boston, the most cancers in his lungs had taken away his voice. So all of them left with out realizing that their buddy they’d spent numerous hours swapping tales with by no means instructed them his greatest secret of all.

For the previous 50 years, he was a fugitive needed in one of many largest financial institution robberies in Cleveland’s historical past, dwelling in Boston beneath a brand new identify he created six months after the heist in the summertime of 1969. Not even his spouse or daughter knew till he instructed them in what authorities described as a deathbed confession.

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Photos of Thomas Randele, who revealed earlier than he died that he was needed for a 1969 financial institution theft in Cleveland beneath his earlier identify, Ted Conrad.

CBS Boston WBZ-TV


How he was in a position to depart behind one household and create a brand new life — whereas evading a father and son from the U.S. Marshals Service who by no means gave up their hunt — is simply now being pieced collectively.

Ted Conrad rapidly found out that safety was pretty unfastened on the Society National Bank in Cleveland after he began as a teller in January 1969.

He instructed his buddies it could be simple to rob the place, mentioned Russell Metcalf, his finest buddy from highschool.

A day after his twentieth birthday that July, Conrad walked out with $215,000 from the vault, a haul price $1.6 million at present. By the time the lacking cash was seen, Conrad was flying throughout the nation.

In a letter despatched to his girlfriend, he mistakenly thought he may return when the statute of limitations expired. But as soon as he was indicted, that was not true.

Conrad apparently minimize off contact along with his household. Some ultimately presumed he was useless, mentioned Matt Boettger, whose mom was Conrad’s older sister.

His mother, he mentioned, was relieved to seek out out her brother had lived a contented life. “She thought she would go to her grave and never know,” he mentioned.

The financial institution heist in 1969 did not seize the eye of the nation, and even of Cleveland. Everyone else was targeted on Apollo 11′s historic flight to the moon.

But for John Elliott, a deputy U.S. marshal, it was private as a result of he and Conrad got here from the identical aspect of city.

The downside was Conrad had a head begin and was disciplined sufficient to not make missteps.

Elliott traveled throughout the U.S. on the lookout for Conrad and even after retiring would test on the case, mentioned his son, Pete Elliott, now the highest U.S. marshal in Cleveland, who inherited the hunt for Conrad almost 20 years in the past.

His father died in March 2020 earlier than investigators pieced collectively particulars from Randele’s obituary and signatures from his previous. Then in November, Randele’s household confirmed that simply earlier than he died, he instructed them what he had achieved, Elliott mentioned.

Why Conrad dedicated the theft has been analyzed endlessly.

“It wasn’t about the money. He always wanted to impress people,” mentioned Metcalf, his highschool pal.

Investigators imagine he was impressed by the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a couple of financial institution govt who acquired away with $2.6 million and turned the heist right into a recreation.

After the real-life theft in Cleveland, Conrad wound up within the Boston space, the place a lot of the film was filmed.

Thomas Randele got here into existence in January 1970 when Conrad utilized for a Social Security quantity in Boston, Elliott mentioned.

During the Nineteen Seventies, Randele labored at a rustic membership exterior Boston and have become its supervisor. He additionally met his future spouse not lengthy after arriving in Boston. They have been married in 1982.

Around then, he started working within the automobile enterprise, promoting Land Rovers and Volvos till he retired after almost 40 years.

What’s not clear but is what occurred to the cash. The Marshals Service is wanting into whether or not he misplaced it early via dangerous investments.

While Randele and his spouse, Kathy, lived most of their years in a nice Boston suburb, they filed for chapter safety in 2014. She instructed Cleveland.com in November that her husband was an ideal man. She has declined interview requests.

No one would have guessed that Randele, who was 71 when he died, was somebody making an attempt to cover from authorities.

Among the many individuals he grew to become buddies with over time was an FBI agent in Boston, Elliott mentioned.

“He was just a gentle soul, you know, very polite, very well spoken,” mentioned Jerry Healy, who first met Randele at a Woburn, Massachusetts, dealership the place they talked day by day for years.

Matt Kaplan, who managed two dealerships the place Randele labored and golfed with him for a few years, known as him a gentleman.

“The only way it makes sense is that at that age he was just a kid, and it was a challenge kind of thing,” Kaplan mentioned.

“If he would have told us way back when, I don’t think we would have believed him because he wasn’t that kind of guy,” he mentioned. “The man was different than the kid.”

In the early days after Randele’s identification was revealed, his buddies could not imagine it. But now wanting again, some issues make sense. How he at all times had a beard. His reluctance to speak about the place he grew up or his prolonged household.

“You know all the years I knew Tommy, I never heard him mention a sister or a mother or a brother or a father,” Healy mentioned.

“You could never pry anything from him,” mentioned Brad Anthony, one other shut buddy.

Still, he mentioned it is virtually unattainable to imagine. “It just seems so out of character for the Tom I knew,” he mentioned.

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