Remember the guy who robbed a bank in Cleveland, then changed his name and moved to Massachusetts, where he started a new life for himself and never got caught?
The revelation certainly came as a shock to his daughter, Ashley Randele, who tells her side of the wild story in a new podcast called “Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad.”
“I mean, he was just not somebody that you would ever suspect was a wanted fugitive,” she said in an interview Friday. “He objectively seemed like, you know, a suburban dad.”
According to the US Marshals Service, Randele’s father — whose real name was Ted Conrad — once worked as a teller at the Society National Bank in Cleveland, and his last day on the job was July 11, 1969. It was the day after his 20th birthday. At the end of his shift, he walked out with a paper bag containing $215,000 (equivalent to more than $1.6 million today) and was never seen again.
It wasn’t until 2021, when her father was dying from an aggressive form of cancer, that he mentioned anything about his secret past to his family. Randele said she was watching TV with her mother and father when it first came up.
“I wish I could remember the date, but it was either the end of March or beginning of April,” she said. “The three of us were just in the living room watching TV. I think we were watching ‘NCIS’ because that was his favorite show. And he really like just out of the blue was like, ‘So ladies ... just in case something ever comes up about this. I don’t want to talk about it, I’m just telling you: I did have to change my name. When I was younger, like when I moved here, I changed my name because of a reason. And the authorities are probably still looking for me. I don’t want to talk about it, but just in case, I don’t want you to be completely blindsided.’”
After dropping that bombshell, her father went back to watching the TV show.
At first, Randele thought her dad must be joking. When she realized he wasn’t, she pressed him for more information. It took a while before he reluctantly told her his real name.
“He really didn’t want to talk about it. But he finally acquiesced,” she said. “He said, ‘my name is Ted.’ I remember he just looked so pained, like he’s like, ‘please don’t ask me this.’ And he finally just really quietly said, ‘Conrad.’”
Soon after that, Randele looked up her father’s real name on Google and discovered the truth about his past that he’d been hiding for so long.
“It’s like 2:30 in the morning, I’m wide awake. I’m in my childhood bedroom,” she said.
She typed “Ted Conrad” into Google. Then she added the word “missing” to her search. Soon she was reading articles about the 1969 bank robbery.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” she said. “‘My life is a Lifetime movie.’”
After she found out, Randele began reflecting on her own past, and things that her father did when she was younger took on a different meaning.
“You sort of see things in a different light, and you realize that he did sort of keep secrets,” she said.
Randele recalled one time in high school where she had the opportunity to go to France for a school trip and parents could be chaperones. Her mother seemed excited for the trip, but her father refused to go.
“He’s like, ‘I’d rather just stay home. I’m gonna work ... You girls go have fun,’” she said. “And at the time, I just thought he was weird ... like, all right, maybe you don’t have like the international travel bug. But I realized now he couldn’t have gone because he doesn’t have a birth certificate. He couldn’t get a passport.”
Randele said the robbery her father committed in 1969 was premeditated, and she came to learn that it wasn’t just about stealing money, but getting the opportunity to escape and start anew.
“It seemed like he did know what he was doing,” she said. “We found out that it wasn’t necessarily just about the money, but it was more about wanting to start over and leave his life behind. It wasn’t really that he was on the run more so that he was running away.”