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You're listening to Smokscreen, my fugitive dad. Before you dive in, if you want to listen to the whole story, uninterrupted, you can. Unlock the entire season ad-free right now with a subscription to The Binch. That's all episodes all at once. Unlock your listening now by clicking subscribe at the top of The Smokscreen show page on Apple Podcasts or visit getthebinge. Com to get access wherever you get your podcasts.


The Binge.


Okay, I guess if we're going to tell the story from the top, we need to start with the movie.


You got to give the people what they want.


The Thomas Crown affair was released in 1968. It was one of the most iconic heist films ever made.




In the movie, Thomas Crown is a clever and charming businessman who pulls off an elaborate and inhibitable robbery of a bank in Boston, Massachusetts. Go. Steve McQueen is the lead. His character is already rich. He does it seemingly because he can.




Getaway car, a wood panel station wagon exits the Massachusetts Turnpike, canvas sacks of money in the trunk. The driver drops them off in a trash can at the Cambridge Cemetery. A little while later, McQueen arrives in a black Rolls-Royce to pick up the sacks. He drives home. His butler asks him about his day.




Just fine. He tells him go home early. Thank you, sir. He walks into the antiroom, pours himself a drink, looking sharp with his crew cut of golden blonde hair and tailored suit. He catches himself in the mirror for a cheeky moment of primordial narcissism and toasts his own reflection, then reclines on the couch, biting into a thick cigar, and is unable to control his laughter. He's done it. Yeah. And that's really where the film starts as law enforcement and a special investigator slash love interest played by Fay Dunaway are hot on his trail. It's one of those summer blockbusters that kids of the era must have flocked to. The flashy thrill of the chase and a leading man all the boys wanted to emulate. But there was only one young man watching that film among the millions who must have seen it that summer in small towns and big cities across America that took his obsessive admiration for Steve McQueen a bit too far. He was a kid from Cleveland, Ohio, named Ted Conrad. He loved the movie, went time and again to see it in the theater. He loved it so much that he tried to pull off his own heist.


And the crazy thing is he did it. He stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the story of a crime that impacted two families in profoundly different ways. One, desperate for the truth, and the other, unwittingly living a lie. A cop with a life's mission to find answers, a family with no idea that they hold the key to solving the case, a key that once unlocked, would transform their lives. It's been over half a century since Ted Conrad stole a fortune from Society National Bank.




The real story of what happened has remained a mystery until now.




Neonhum Media and Sony Music Entertainment, this is Smokescreen, my futurereligion of dad. I'm Jonathan Hersh. Chapter 1, Becoming Thomas Crown. I've covered some fascinating characters as a documentarian over the years. Cult leaders, dirty cops, corrupt politicians. But I have never been so consumed with the desire to know a complete stranger until I heard about Ted Conrad. Some call his crime the greatest cold case in Ohio State history. It's not that he stole the money, but more that for decades, there were no credible leads. The US marshals, the local police, FBI, all were on the hook to track down Ted. For 52 years, there was a lot of smoke, but no fire. This case defined the career for the deputy US-martial of Northern Ohio, John Elliot. What's it like to chase somebody for 50 years?


Every once.


In a while, I'd think about it. We're going to get this guy one of these days. He's going to slip up and make him and he's dead. I don't think.


And you can see why. I mean, the crime itself was baffling. Can you just walk out of a bank with all that money like that? It's like some slight of hand, elegantly simple, but infinitely complex. It was one of those Reddit mysteries that people obsess about online, like D. B. Cooper, the man who skyjacked a plane and disappeared into thin air.


He had talked about it with friends in the past about how easy it would be to take money and disappear. And that's what he did.


That's Pete Elliot, by the way. His dad was John Elliot, the deputy US Marshall, who spent his entire life chasing Ted Conrad.


He walked in, put $215,000 in a paper bag.


He had a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey with him.


Put that on top of the bag.


Had a quick chat with his boss, the manager of the bank, who wished him happy birthday. And unbelievably, in a moment that would live on as.


Legend, he.


Walked out the front door.


He disappeared in thin air.


Never to be seen or heard from again. Ted Conrad.


Walked out of.


The bank he worked at. He disappeared with a paper bag.






This is Unsolved mysteries of the World. I'm digging into the case files in search of any new clues that might help track down this notorious fugitive. And a big part of that obsession had to do with the myth that had been built up around Ted. Ted did seem to have that certain something. I tracked down friends who'd known him 50 years ago, and they said he was smart, good looking, had this mischievous his look in his eye, a playfulness in his smile, gave off that star quarterback vibe, but also a touch more sophistic, almost academic, the jock professor, if you will. He had a girlfriend, in fact, a few. But in the fallout of his disappearance, there was one detail that people fixated on in particular, his obsession with the movie The Thomas Crown affair. Let's start with the money. Well, I don't have it.




Would you do if you did?




Thought that Ted Conrad had stolen a page from a Hollywood script, a handsome, brash young man who made a decision that led to a life on the run without family or friends or recourse, just this big bag of money to keep him warm.


He wanted to become Thomas Crown.


What person could pull off such an elaborate crime? He had the smarts to outfox law enforcement for the better part of half a century. But the most baffling mystery of all to me was why? Why did this young man choose a life like this and never look back? All of the articles about Ted made it seem like just like Steve McQuain. He did it because he could. From the beginning, I was convinced there had to be more to the story than that. Bonnie View Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio, is mostly two and three-storey wood-frame houses with wide steps leading up to front porches. Summers are blistering and muggy, but the long arms of trees shade the sidewalks. An occasional breeze off of Lake Erie brings respite from the heat. Lakewood is a suburb of Cleveland. To this day, it has a small-town vibe. Nice place to raise a family. Walking south, you cross Detroit Avenue, one of the main drags, and then you pick your path, wending through the streets all built in the same style at the same time. Trevor route leads you to Franklin Boulevard and Lakewood High School.


My name is Russ Metcalfe. I live in the beautiful state of Texas. But when I was in high school, I lived in Lakewood, Ohio, and I was very good friends with a guy by the name of Ted Conrad.


The campus of Lakewood High spans an entire block. And if you walk through the halls, courtyards, clamoring noise of the high school, you'll get to the football field. And that's where in their junior year, Ted and Russ became friends.


Most of the kids I went to school with all grew up there. I didn't, neither did Ted.


Russ remembers Ted as being like him at the time, bit of an outsider, trying to feel at home in Lakewood.


It was all the normal things you'd expect. I mean, it was a middle class to lower middle class community, steelworkers and bus drivers, and as well as corporate executives.


Ted's dad was a teacher. His mom was a violinist. When they divorced, his mom remarried this guy named Raymond Marsh.


It was a great town to grow up in. There was a lot of things to do. The biggest crime I can remember is when we would go out on Friday nights in toilet paper people's houses. Ted came.


Back to Cleveland after a year at college, which is when Ted and his pal, Russ, would end up getting a job at a bank, two different banks down the street from each other.


The good old days of recruiting one of our friends from high school was working for an employment agency. We were out having a beer someplace and he came over and said, Hey, you guys looking for a job. And he had this big stack of cards at all these jobs. And the first one he came to was for a vault teller at what was called the time Society National Bank.


The vault teller.


And Ted said, Well, that sounds good. So Ted went and interviewed and got the job right off.


Not long after that, Russ's friend got him a job at another bank nearby. Russ looks back at that period of his life fondly. He and Ted were on top of the world. They'd play golf together, go out to parties, and double date. Ted was dating a girl at the time named Kathy Einstein.


Friday night was like our night to sit and sip champagne and eat shrimp. We had a really good time together. We laughed a lot.


But little did Russ and Kathy know back then that Ted was probably already plotting his way out.


Ted would talk about how lax as security was. I mean, he said, They didn't even fingerprint me when I came to work for this.


Actually, my sister and I went to the bank one day. We were going to meet him for lunch and he said, Do you want to see where I work? We said, Sure. He said, Come around to the back of the bank. And we did. He opened the door, we came in and we were like, Whoa, we're in this big room of money. I know he didn't want anyone to see us there. We went into the vault and we were sitting there and we were holding armloads of money and there was nobody in there but the three of us. So we wasn't like we were there for any long period of time. Then he ushered us out. Then we went around to the front of the bank and met him for lunch.


Russ and Kathy confirmed that the Thomas Crown affair loomed large in Ted's life at.


The time. I probably didn't see the Thomas Crown affair with Ted until after he'd seen it five times.


Yeah, I went with him to see it right after he did light a cigar.


He thought it was charming and it made him look charming. He loves Steve.


You do live very well, don't you?


No complaints. Well, we both love Steve and Queen, but he just he thought it was really cool that here this guy could be so, pardon the words, suave and devonaire, and he was brilliant. And yet he was crafty enough that he could pull off a bank heist and never get caught. That's one of the things, I guess, that caused Ted to start talking about the bank and what they can get away with. I just can't believe what I could get away with.


Russ struggles still to separate fact from fiction when it comes to Ted. Go. Go. Go. In the film, Thomas Crown employed a strategically-positioned team to execute his grand heist. The getaway driver never saw Crown's face. He wasn't there when they entered the bank, when they liquidated the vaults and walked calmly and quickly out the front door. Ted Conrad worked at the bank. He pulled off the crime by himself. But he was thinking about and planning how to pull off the heist for months. That's what Kathy, his girlfriend at the time, told me.


You know what? It was not an obsession, but there was a group of us one night and we were all sitting around, just sitting around and talking. He mentioned that it would be easy to walk out of the bank with a bunch of money. We were just throwing around ideas about how you could get a fake birth certificate. He and I actually went to the Bureau of Vital Statistics and got my little brother's birth certificate. They didn't ask me for identification or anything. I just said, I need this birth certificate, and gave my mother's maiden name, and they gave it to me. They didn't ask who I was.


It was one of those things. It's been a part of my life ever since. And there hasn't been a day gone by that I didn't think about him. I mean, it's 52 years, and I still kept thinking I was going to run into him, or I would see him, or I would talk to him.


According to Russ, he and Ted were inseparable. And since Ted was turning 20 that final week they saw each other, they made plans to go out. They went just north of downtown to a little restaurant on the lake that used to be located at Berk Lakefront Airport, small landing strip that runs alongside the water.


I had a great time. We talked about everything. We talked about plans. My fiancé and I were planning our wedding. Ted, of course, was going to be my best man.


The night wore on. It was a celebration.


When the check came and we both work, we both had money, I reached to get the check and he wouldn't let me pay it. I said, Ted, it's your birthday. He said, No, no, no. He says, I don't know how many times I can… He says, I haven't taken you out to dinner much.


It was a peculiar thing to say, coming from Ted, that is.


And it was really strange because Ted never picked up a check. He was one of those guys that he's happy. I mean, he wouldn't feel bad about treating you, but he was happy enough to let somebody else pick up the check.


Everyone stumbled home a great night. The next day would be their last as friends. But at the time, Russ had no idea. In the morning, a few hours before he disappeared with the money, Ted called him up.


He said, You up for lunch? I said, Sure.


They decided to meet at a restaurant halfway between the two banks where they worked.


The best grilled hamburgers I've ever had. Place called the Flaming Embers.


They had an hour long lunch break and were at the restaurant for maybe 40 minutes. They made plans to play golf the next day at Rocky River Park.


He said, I got to go to the liquor store. I said, What for? He says, We may get together this weekend, so I want to get some Southern comfort, and I need to get a carton of cigarettes. I said, Okay.


And again, Ted offered to pick up the check. And I'm going, Ted.


This is getting ridiculous. He says, Nah, Nah. He says, I owe it to you. He went his way and I went my way. Then that night was when he disappeared. Infamous is a podcast that tells you everything.


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Warning. This podcast contains juicy tales of a super dysfunctional family: brothers betraying brothers, friends becoming enemies, and a mother trying her best to keep everything from falling apart. No, this isn't a reality TV rewatch. I'm Dan Jones, your host, and this is one of my all-time favorite true stories. Join me on a trip to the Middle Ages to meet history's most dangerous dynasty, the plantagenets. This season, the plots are thicker, the ambitions greater, and the betrayals are even more devious in the epic saga of the family that shaped our world. From something else in Sony Music Entertainment, this is history, a dynasty to die for. Season two. Listen and follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Let's make sure I'm just… These are all the New York copies. These look like records.


Let's start with the investigation into that day. I'm sitting in the sprawling corner office of Pete Elliot. Remember, he's the one whose dad, John, spent the better part of his career trying to find Ted Conrad. Pete pulled out boxes, dragged them onto the floor around his desk, and we sat across from each other looking at them. It's a cloudy spring day in Cleveland. From Pete's office, you can see downtown where Society National Bank used to be, where all of this started.


Can you hang on one second? Yeah, hang on, Jonathan. Pete L.


We combed through some of the boxes. Feels like we're looking at old family photos no one's gotten around organizing.


All right, thank you.


The story of Ted and his disappearance seemed, at first, impossible to penetrate. Those cross-sections of the Earth, each clue is another layer, but no end in sight. And sitting there with Pete in his office, I felt a wash in all those details. I watched Pete as he brought me artifacts and documents to discuss.


How about the tape? Do you got the tape?


I've got the tape, yeah, on this box. He has this stern look on his face while he does it. Maybe he's lost interest in this case decades ago, or maybe it's all he thinks about. He's the guy who doesn't let on very much. He reminded me of my Midwestern uncles. I knew from the beginning that the story of Ted Conrad wasn't just about a young man who stole money from his employer. It's also a story about Pete. Pete and his dad, John.


Well, that's all he did was talk about Conrad.


John was the deputy US Marshall first assigned to Ted's case in 1969. John Elliot was obsessed with solving the Conrad case. Ted was practically his nemesis for over 40 years.


It was his lifelong mission to... He made an enemy with Conrad right away, right? And sometimes you need that and you're like, That other thing to motivate you.


People talked about Ted's crime. In this way, they made it sound like he was some miracle. Like when someone sees the Virgin Mary in a Cupcake or something like that. Ted Conrad was a magician. But I still couldn't shake the sense that despite how well executed the crime appeared to have been, he was practically a teenager from suburban Cleveland. Not a criminal mastermind. Or was he? Ted's every move leading up to the day had been scrutinized. Every relative or friend of his had been interviewed again and again, trying to find some clue as to where he disappeared to and how he was able to walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars.


From everything that we know and knew in the investigation was right here at Society National Bank, and Conrad was working there.


Ted Conrad went into work.


In the morning, he was driven to work by his girlfriend because his car had broken down, and that was July 11th of 1969.


A couple of hours later, Ted gave his girlfriend, Kathy Einsteinhouse, a call.


I said, This is a big day.


At around 2:30 in the afternoon, Ted called Kathy again.


I stated he might rob the bank today.


She didn't believe him. Just before the end of the work day at 4:30, he got ready to leave. He was seen carrying a medium size paper sack, a cigarette carton on top of the sack, stuffed underneath the carton of smokes, $215,000. Billion, the equivalent of 1.8 million today.


And in.


A puff of smoke, Ted walked out the front door of Society National Bank and was never seen again. From that moment on, he would drift further and further from his life in Cleveland, transform into something else, something different than the kid, Russ, knew. A myth. The vault teller from Cleveland who liked fast cars. The kid from Lakewood, Ted Conrad.


The landlady where he was residing at the time Conrad was residing, saw Conrad get into a yellow cab, wearing a brown suit, and carrying extra clothes.


Rapid station, please. Ted booked a cab to the train stop in downtown. He had two suitcases with him. In the cab, he changed his destination. Actually, the airport. He asked the driver to take him to Hopkins Airport, told the driver he's heading to Denver.


Which airline?


The cab he asked. Drop me off at the main terminal. Conrad said. A flight was booked from Cleveland to Washington National Airport, Northwest Flight 382, under the name C. Singletary. A man matching the description of Ted was seen on board. As far as we know, incredibly, Ted Conrad never returned to Cleveland, never spoke to his mom or dad or his friends ever again. Nobody suspected the money was missing until Monday morning when Ted didn't show up for work.


Obviously, he had a whole plan in place or somebody had a whole plan in place for him. There's still a lot of things that, still some questions that I have.


That night, Russ was at his girlfriend Christine's house. According to Russ, Ted called them. Russ still lived with his parents at the time, so his mom answered the phone. Then Ted called Christine, but they didn't answer. He tried to reach his girlfriend, too.


He called me that evening and said, Do you want to come over and I have something to show you? I said, No. I said, I'm going out with a friend. I said, Yeah. I said, I'll talk to you tomorrow.


On Saturday morning, Russ drove over to Ted's house as planned.


I pulled up. I walked upstairs to his apartment, knocked on the door, knocked on the door. Nobody was there. I looked in the back where the parking was and his car wasn't there.


He didn't think much of it at the time. Maybe Ted had forgotten about golf? Russ went about his weekend, wasn't concerned. The car, it turns out, was parked just up the street. And by now, Ted was states away.


I didn't realize it until probably a few days later. When we parted, he said goodbye. He didn't say, I'll see you tomorrow. He didn't say, Have a good afternoon. He just said, Bye, Russ. After the fact, thinking about it, it's like, I wonder if he was trying to tell me something. I wonder if there was something that he just... It was hard for me to understand the way he was.


That Monday morning, the bank did an audit of their funds. And surprise, surprise, the money was missing.


Well, originally, it was an FBI case. So the FBI, because it was a bank robbery, quote-unquote, they would have been involved initially in it.


After the bank administrators found out that a substantial portion of the company's funds had gone missing, they contacted the feds. It didn't take long to put two and two together. The guy in charge of the vault, he didn't show up for work.


When there's a warrant that's issued, it comes to the US Marshall Service.


A warrant was issued for Ted Conrad's arrest. The formal charge is bank embezzlement since he didn't technically rob the bank. From the very beginning, Pete's dad, John Elliot, was working the case. That included digging into Ted's background, interviewing his friends, calling around to see if anyone might have known about his whereabouts or plans, which, of course, led them in short order to Russ. On Monday morning, Russ got a call from another friend.


He also worked in the bank with Ted, and we partied together a few times. I got a call at my bank, at my desk, and he said, Russ, have you seen Ted? I said, And I told him, I said, No, we had lunch Friday. We're supposed to play golf Saturday. He never showed up.


A couple of hours later, that friend called him back.


I said, What's going on? He says, Ted hasn't shown up. He hasn't called in and there's a shortage. I think he actually said there's money missing. But I said, Really? He said, Yeah. He says, I'll get back to you.


Russ carried on with his day, but no doubt by then, he had started to wonder if, after all the times Ted talked about how easy it'd be to steal from the bank if he'd actually, this time, crossed the Rubicon. Three hours later, he got another call. It was the attorney's office at Russ's bank.


One of the attorneys said, Russ, come over to my office. I walked in and there were two guys in suits sitting at his desk. I looked at him and I still don't know why I did it. I said, You guys must be from the FBI. How much did he get?


It was still a joke to Russ. Maybe he hadn't fully set in yet what was going on. But to the FBI, there was nothing funny about it.


They said, Well, we can't discuss that, but do you happen to know where Ted is? Then we got in this whole thing about where would he go?


The next day, Ted Conrad sent a letter to his girlfriend, Kathy Einsteinhouse. It had been shipped from the Washington National Airport station. He asked her to burn the letters so the authorities wouldn't find them. Thankfully, she didn't. On July 17th, 1969, six days after Ted disappeared with the money, he wrote a second letter to his girlfriend, Kathy. About a week after that, a search warrant is issued for Ted's apartment and car. Inside, the feds found two Society National Canvas bank bags and a bottle of Canadian Club Whisky. In the next two weeks, Ted would reach out to people he knew two more times before his trail went cold. Cold. Ted left behind a lot. A girlfriend, a job, brothers and sisters, a mother, a stepfather, a group of friends. The rest has become the stuff of legend.


So where is Teddy Conrad today?


Who knows?




Conrad Trail is.


Cold as Marshalls look to generate.


Some heat. However, he might be found. Us marshals aren't giving up on the hunt for the kid who turned the Thomas Crown affair into his real life. This unbelievable story was one that I was about to, in a way, become a part of myself. Because it turns out that while Pete's dad, John Elliot, had been turning over every stone, following every blind lead to a dead end, Ted Conrad was hiding in plain sight. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear punk.


And head.


Happy birthday to you. It's the late winter, 2023. I'm at a storage facility outside of Linfield, Massachusetts, 10-minute drive from Ted's house. I'm here with someone who is, like me, aching to tell Ted's story, to understand it, to make sense of what he left behind. Still bleary-eyed from the red eye I took to Boston, I watched the aluminum roll top doors draw slowly down and the Bayesian winter light of the North Shore disappear with it. When I first came to this town in search of Ted, I remember driving around Lynn Field, scanning the street, almost as if I'd find something along the way. I went to Ted's old house, to the golf course where I used to play. Nothing. At last, a close friend of Ted's called me. I pulled over to the side of the road. He wouldn't talk for all the reasons I'd heard. We respect the family's privacy, etc. But he also said, There's another reason. I just miss him so much. This little recognition washed over me like a tiny wave that made me aware of the bigger waves farther out to see. There was more to the story of Ted.


He is in kackies, and you can see in the photo that they have at least a double pleat in the front because he loves a pleated pant and then one of his either Land Rover or golf shirts.


More than anyone, this person holds the key to the mystery. I'm thinking to myself how amazing it is. How little we can confidently say about this man after all these years. How little we can confidently say about anybody.


I thought I knew my dad, but that was before I found out he'd been a fugitive for decades.


You should probably introduce yourself.


Yeah, I'm Ashley. I'm actually Ted's daughter.


But you weren't always aware of that.




Could you have ever imagined your dad was a criminal mastermind?


Absolutely not. He was always so relaxed and easygoing. I never would have guessed how many secrets he had.


You and your dad were unusually close, though, right? You weren't just his only child. You were also his confidant.


Yeah, I think he would tell me things because he either thought that I could handle it better than my mom or that I just have this terrible gift of being able to compartmentalize things and put it on a shelf and tuck it away. Maybe he would give her 10% of a story and then I might get 30%, but I would definitely get more than she did.


But now at 38 years old, she found herself asking, what percentage of the story he told her was a lie? Was it all a lie?


I deserve to know my father's name. I deserve to know my name.


She also deserves to know why. Why did Ted take off with the money and leave his whole life behind? This burning question was how Ashley and I found ourselves on a journey in search of the real Ted.


He wasn't a wise guy. I mean, he looked straight in the eyes.


The only time I saw him was sad.


When he was saying that.


His parents were killed.


With his.




Brothers at a car accident. He was Ohio's most infamous fugitive.


Some people portrayed Conrad as a Robin hood, and my dad called him nothing but a thief.


He kept plenty of secrets.


And he said, If I tell you, you have to promise.




Will not look into it. I don't want you looking into anything. I don't want you telling anybody.


Ted Conrad, it turns out, was a mystery even to those who knew him best. I will tell you at long last not only how he did it, but why. Don't want to wait for the next episode? You don't have to. Unlock all episodes of Smok screen, my fugitive dad, ad-free right now by subscribing to The Binge Podcast channel. Just click, Subscribe at the top of The Smok screen show page on Apple Podcasts or visit getthebinge. Com to get access wherever you get your podcasts. As a subscriber, you'll get binge access to new stories on the first of every month. Check out the binge channel page on Apple Podcasts or getthebinge. Com to learn more. Smoke Screen, My Fugitive Dad, is an original production of Neon Hum Media and Sony Music Entertainment. It was written and produced by me, Jonathan Hersh. Ashley Randall and I co-hosted it. Our editor is Catherine St. Louis. She's also Neon Hum Media's executive editor. Our executive producers are me and Ashley. Sound design and mixing by Scott Summerville, theme and original music composed by Matt McGinley. We also use music by Blue Dot, Sessions and Epidemic Sound. Our Associate Producer is Anne Lynn.


Catherine Nuhon is our fact checker. Our Production Manager is Samantha Allison. Our lawyers are Rachel Goldberg and Allison Cherie. Special thanks to Joanna Clay, Cherra Morris, Steve Ackerman, Emily Rasek, Devon Schwartz, Laura Ubate, Amy Eddings, Carinne and Welden Pless, and the voice of young Ted Conrad, Johnny Boss. If you're enjoying the show, be sure to rate and review. It helps more people find it. Thanks so much for listening.