Fugitive Bank Teller Ted Conrad Vanished With $215,000 50 Years Ago
Friends say Ted Conrad started dressing like Steve McQueen, driving an MG sports car, speaking French, and even, apparently, concocting his own version of Thomas Crown's epic Hollywood heist.
CLEVELAND, OH — The impact of the caper film classic The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) on 20-year-old bank employee Theodore “Ted” Conrad can not be underestimated, but it can be given a cash value: $215,000, to be exact.
After repeatedly watching his idol Steve McQueen star in Thomas Crown as a hyper-stylish billionaire who plans and executes a massive bank heist just to prove he can do it, Ted Conrad took to imitating the character’s debonair ways.
Friends say Ted started dressing like McQueen, driving an MG sports car, speaking French, and even, apparently, concocting his own Cleveland version of Thomas Crown’s epic Hollywood heist.
At the time, Ted Conrad worked in the vault of Society National Bank in downtown Cleveland. On the afternoon of Friday, July 11, 1969, Ted Conrad took a break and went to a nearby liquor store. He purchased a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey and a carton of Marlboros, and he brought the items back in a brown paper bag.
At quitting time, Conrad bid farewell and took off with his sack of booze and cigarettes. Authorities believe the bag also contained $215,000 in $50 and $100 bills. Today, that haul would be worth about $1.2 million.
At 7:26 P.M., Conrad left his apartment with one small suitcase and hopped a cab to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He phoned his girlfriend, claiming he was heading to a rock concert in Erie, Pennsylvania. Conrad next contacted her via letters postmarked from airports in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, allegedly implicating himself in the crime.
From there, the last individuals reported to have seen Conrad alive were a married couple vacationing in Hawaii. Three months after the disappearance, the husband and wife said they struck up a conversation with a young man sipping drinks in a bar. They said he mentioned living in an apartment near the Honolulu zoo. Afterward, the couple recognized the drinker as Conrad from a news report and contacted the authorities.
In late 1969, authorities intercepted correspondence in which Conrad claimed to a friend that he had radically altered his appearance — and, since then, that’s been it. The hunt to find him, however, continues unabated.
Retired U.S. Marshall John Elliot, who has been tracking Conrad from day one, says he knew the case would be complicated when he asked the bank to see their employee fingerprints. At the time, the bank had no fingerprinting policy. Since Conrad also had no prior criminal record, that standard investigation tool was instantly off the table.
Still, Elliot continues his search, even in retirement. He was 23 when it began; he’s 73 now. Nonetheless, Elliot remains convinced that Ted Conrad can and will be caught. Talking to Cleveland.com, Elliot said:
“One of the reasons I stayed after this guy is that some people thought he was some kind of hero or Robin Hood. He's not. He was nothing but a thief — a young, smart-assed thief who managed to elude law enforcement for all these years. Hopefully, we can bring him to justice soon."
If you have any information about Theodore Conrad, please contact The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-WANTED (1-866-492-6833).
For more on this case, check out the "Ted Conrad’s Bank Heist" episode of the Investigation Discovery digital series Lake Erie’s Coldest Cases on ID GO!