Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts woman who heard her father's deathbed confession two years ago but dismissed it as a fish tale said she was shocked to find he was telling the truth about his role in the 1969 Ohio bank heist.
Ashley Randele said her father, 71-year-old Thomas Conrad, died from lung cancer in Boston on May 18, 2021 -- two months after he opened up to his incredulous daughter about the crime.
Earlier, doctors had given him just six weeks to live, prompting Conrad to come clean with Randele about his past, saying he robbed the Security National Bank in Cleveland but managed to keep it secret from family members for more than five decades as he eluded authorities.
The subject came up one night as Randele, Conrad and his wife, Kathy, watched an episode of the popular crime show "NCIS," when the dying Conrad began reflecting on his life.
"When I moved here, I had to change my name," he said, according to Randele, who spoke to the New York Post. "And the authorities are probably still looking for me," he added with intrigue.
"Part of me took this as dad humor," said Randele, who is now 38. "The authorities?" she said she wondered to herself after the bizarre conversation with her dad.
"I sat with it for a day. Then I realized that, if he is not Tom Randele, I am not Ashley Randele. I told my dad that he has to tell me his real name. He said he would tell me as long as I promised to not look into it."
Randele said she agreed, and after a long pause, the man she thought she knew as Randele said his real name was Ted Conrad.
Later that night, Randele said she Googled "Ted Conrad" and got a hit for a 20-year-old college dropout named Ted Conrad who wanted for the 1969 theft of $215,000 from the bank vault, which would be $1.7 million in today's dollars.
Conrad worked at the bank as the vault teller, and said he committed the robbery on a Friday, when the bank closed for the weekend. From there, he caught a flight to Washington, D.C., getting a big head start before bank officials re-opened the following Monday.
The heist made front-page news across the country at the time, and Randele said she sat for a period of time reading about her father's exploits.
Through the years, the case was featured on episodes of America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries, shows that are no longer on the air.
The robbery is also newly relevant as Randele is featured on a podcast titled "Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad," which premieres Monday and has so far helped her come to terms with her father's past.
Randele said the moment she realized the truth about her father, it hit her like a ton of bricks.
"I almost didn't believe it. I thought, 'my life is a Lifetime movie,'" she said. "It was shocking and it took me a few minutes for it to sink in."
From there, Conrad obtained a new social security number and moved to Boston, where he met is wife, Kathy, and raised his only child, Ashley.
When Conrad died in 2021, Randele said she planned to keep his secret until federal agents knocked on her door two months later, saying they had questions about the unsolved heist.
Some of the charges Conrad had faced, including embezzling from the bank and falsifying records, were ultimately dropped as he outwitted efforts to find him, presumably allowing time for the statute of limitations to expire.
"He covered his trail really well," deputy U.S. Marshall Pete Elliott told the Cleveland Plan Dealer. "It's really unbelievable that he lived the way he did for so many years. He was so good at it."