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The bench. Even in October, Waikiki Beach must have felt like summer coming from the Midwest, especially when you're on vacation. The warm water lapping the shore, Mai Tai in hand, you're a world away from home. And that's the point to get away. A couple found themselves on such a vacation. The husband was from Scotland originally, and while on vacation, they ran into this nice sky on the beach. He'd moved to Hawaii from Cleveland a few months ago. He told them he'd been living somewhere between the zoo and Diamond Head, Working in group insurance, he said. Initially, he mistook the husband's Scottish accent for an Australian one. He asked him how he might get to Australia. The three were really hitting it off, talking about everything. After a while, the man offered to buy the couple another round of drinks. But then something strange happened. The husband corrected the man, told him he was, in fact, from Scotland and so couldn't really be helpful in the man's efforts to get to Australia. But also, they too were from the Cleveland area. How crazy is that, right? And just on vacation. The man remained calm but seemed in a hurry to wrap up the conversation after hearing where the couple was from.


He quickly excused the previous offer for a drink and was on his way. It struck the couple as odd, but they quickly forgot about the incident until they returned home. The local newspaper ran a story, a big one, and it included a picture. When they saw that story, there was no doubt in their minds who that man on the beach really was. Ted Conrad. They reported the interaction to the US Marshall's office to John Elliot, the deputy US Marshall. John would spend nearly five decades tracking down leads like this. But that October day on Waikiki Beach, 1969?


Turned out he was never in a way. It was a false identification. It would.


Be the last time a civilian reported seeing Ted Conrad ever again. If you were a fugitive like Ted Conrad, you might have thought you were in the wind, but then you never met the man chasing you. Us Deputy Marshall, John Elliot. From Neon, Hummed Media and Sony Music Entertainment, this is Smokescreen. My fugitive dad. I'm Jonathan Hirste.


And I'm Ashley Randall.


Chapter Two, The Hunt. If there was any cop in the world who was going to find Ted Conrad, it was going to be John Elliot.


My father was a hard individual. He was like a rock.


He entered law enforcement in the early around the time Pete was born.


He's known as a tough guy, probably with the strongest handshake that anybody has ever felt in their life.


He was a commanding presence. Six foot two, 220, lifted, and down. Pete says he looked the part of a cop.


A very timidating figure. And when I was growing up, all the kids were all scared of my father.


He remembers being out with his younger sister and some guys drove by in a car and whistled at her. His dad pursued the car on foot to a store around the corner and gave the boys a talking to. John was the guy who, during a major storm, gathered all the kids on the block and secured them in a cold storage facility. He was everybody's protector. He sniffed out criminal activity from a neighbor down the street just through his powers of observation. One neighbor remembers their child having nightmares and comforting her by saying that no matter what happens, the deputy Marshall across the street, John Elliot, is there. He'll take care of you if nothing else. Pete says John was a great dad, a great provider, and a great mother for their family.


But he was 100 % into law enforcement.


He became the deputy US Marshall in 1967, two years before Ted Conrad stole the money right under his nose at Society National Bank. And maybe that's part of what bothered him so much about it. Ted's crime flew in the face of everything John stood for. He was this hardworking law enforcement agent, dedicating himself to his job and to his community.


And his mission was to catch Ted Conrad, his entire mission.


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From the moment John was assigned the Ted Conrad case, it took over his life and permeated into his personal life too. Pete remembers this clearly. The family would have dinner together at their home in Lakewood sharing details the day over a meal.


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


And there was this running joke.


We'd be sitting around the dinner table and I'd be passing mashed potatoes and my dad would be like, When am I going to get Conrad?


Catching Ted was a lifelong pursuit.


He made an enemy with Conrad right away. And sometimes you need that and you're like, that other thing to motivate you.


Ted was John's nemesis.


To my father, what you saw is what you got. And he was not the guy that ever talked about anybody else behind their back. If he didn't like somebody, he'd go up and tell you he didn't like you.


It's easy to see why John would have disliked Ted immediately, but with Ted on the run, there'd be no chance to say it to his face. It would just have to bubble up inside, unresolved.


He took it personal because Conrad lived in Lakewood. My dad would talk about it all the time, talk about it with the neighbors.


When John began the investigation, you can see why the narrative of the Thomas Crown affair might have stuck. There were a few outward signs of trouble on Ted's life. John started pulling all the employment and school records on him from Lakewood High to New England College, where he went for a semester. His dad was a teacher there.


If you can look at that over there, that's actually from New England College, which is important. That looks like the original, right? That's an original document in blue ink from New England College, that's my dad had in his file.


But in the spring of 1968, he didn't come back to New England College. Instead, he decided to move back home, hang out with his buddy Russ, started dating Kathy. The summer that the Thomas Crown affair was plastered across movie screens all over Ohio and the country. Then there was the paper trail, the flight to DC, the letter that he wrote to Kathy.


The only information that came through was that in Washington, D. C, there's a letter sent back to his girlfriend that was postmarked from DC, which is where he flew to from Cleveland that Friday night.


Later, a letter postmarked from Englewood, California, near Los Angeles.


And after that, he just disappeared.


That letter, to me, is telling. It didn't reveal anything about where Ted might be or how he got away with it. I want to tell you more on that letter later. But as you might have guessed, after the sighting in Honolulu, John's leads became more and more farfetched.


The original focus, even throughout the years, was that he was fluent in French and probably went back to France at one point.


So that was the assumption then?


That was the assumption, yeah.


This is a fun thought experiment. Conrad managed to escape to France. Was he disguised in a beret on the streets of Paris? It was a compelling argument. But John couldn't find any evidence anywhere of Conrad being overseas. John wondered if his father had aided in getting him out of the States.


He had a father in New Hampshire who was in the military.


Or in true fugitive style, was he hiding out in the New England wilderness? His mom frequented this cabin on Lake Erie. Was he there? Was he fishing for trout? Or did something more sinister happen to him?


One of the theories was that he was murdered by the mob. And I think that came from a family member at one point because they didn't believe he would be still alive in the '60s. And they believed he was put up by them to steal the money. And once he stole the money, they shot and killed him and buried his body somewhere.


You know, over the years, I wondered a million things about him. I wondered if he had gone to an island. I wondered if he went to Montreal because he spoke French. I never thought he was probably in the States somewhere. And I always hoped, I hoped against hope that he pulled it off.


Ted had become something a celebrity by now.


When I think about it, it was like a headquarters for all of his fan club. We had a big sign on the front of the house that said, Go Ted, go. Some of the kids had Go Ted, go shirts on.


Much to the chagrin of John Elliot, who was crisscrossing the country, running down Leads as they appeared.


One of the theories that came through was that he had had a sex change and he was now a female. And that he was back in Lakewood, Ohio, at one point, somewhere in that area.


None of these theories would ever be substantiated. He would spend decades following up bad leads with no luck. Then, just a year before he retired, there was a dangling on the fishing line, a break in the case.


Pete gave me a letter John had written. Subject, Theodore John Conrad, it reads. Above name, subject is wanted on warrant issued July 1969 for the crime of bank embezzlement.


So even 30 years later, months away from retirement, John was sniffing out leads.


Conrad has not been seen since, but there was an unconfirmed sighting in Honolulu, Hawaii, late in 1969 or early 1970.


John refers to himself as Inspector.


On 1/18/1989, this Inspector was watching the TV program, Unsolved mysteries, a segment showed the arrest of an individual identified as Steve Cox. Cox was arrested by the US Park Police and the Lake Mead National Park on warrants issued in Medford, Oregon.


The letter continues. John had apparently been watching an episode of Unsolved mysteries.


Update, Stephen Cox has been arrested in.


Lake Mead, Nevada.


25 miles southeast.


Of Las Vegas.


Because of the extreme similarities between the photos of and Cox, I contacted Unsolved mysteries and was given the following physical descriptions of Stephen Cox.


The note went on to trace the investigation into potential similarities between the two, their fingerprints, their physical characteristics, and the fact that Cox had used a phony place of birth on his ID and that it was Honolulu, the last known potential sighting 20 years ago. But ultimately, they were able to rule him out. The letter ends by saying, I am fully satisfied that Cox and Conrad are not the same individual. John, of course, was not satisfied. He never really gave up looking for Conrad, and not just because it happened on his watch. Being a Marshall in those days was not glamorous.


Some people portrayed Conrad as a Robin hood, and my dad called him nothing but a thief. You got to remember back then in 1969, my father made $6,700 a year being a deputy US Marshall.


$56,000 today. Conrad stole more money than John would have made in 32 years. Basically, the rest of his tenure as a deputy US Marshall. I can imagine the rage and frustration he must have felt. And until I did this story, I really didn't appreciate how low the salaries were for a deputy Marshall in those days.


You know, my mom worked at the church. She was a cleaning lady for 50 plus years. Look, I'm not going to say sometimes it wasn't difficult times. I mean, that's just the way it was. So I don't know if money makes things better in life, but it would probably help my parents out a lot back in those days.


A lot of the time, John would be traveling, tracking down people like Ted Conrad while his family struggled to get by. He wasn't there for Pete's baseball games growing up. He said some years he'd be gone nine months out of the year. This kid from his neighborhood got away with all that cash while his family had to use food stamps to buy groceries and he couldn't be with his children. He was going to make Ted pay.


And there comes Conrad taking 215,000 and disappears in the thin air. I think again, for my dad, he took a personal just because location, location, location. He was right in his backyard when he was going to be the person that was going to pursue Conrad his entire life.


And even when John retired on his own, Ted continued to haunt him. He was around the corner somewhere, a strong lead away from finally being caught.


I know he still didn't give the pursuit up of trying to find Conrad. So during those years, he was working on his own. My dad would come in with a briefcase that we still have here that we're just filled with Conrad things.


Did he ever get close and not know it?


No, I don't think any... After going back in time here, I don't think anybody ever got close at any time on anything. I hate to say he did things perfectly, but he did things pretty damn perfectly.


A lifetime of pursuit, and it seems they didn't even get close to catching Ted. He was that good at disappearing.


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.


I said earlier that the story of Ted Conrad made me think about how you can never really know someone. We are infinite in our complexity. We're like those layers of dirt and cross-sections of the Earth. The deeper you dig, the farther back in time you go. And if you dig really deep, there's no dirt at all. Just a molten, fiery core at the center, our souls. I believe we are just as unknowable to our own selves. And this story really showed me that. Our deepest fears and feelings, the things that truly define us, they reveal themselves over time like a slow drip of knowledge when we're ready and pouring over the files, talking to Pete and to his staff and to Russ, I began to wonder how much Ted could have really known about himself at 20. Then I found and read the letter.


My darling, Kathy.


It's the one Ted wrote to his girlfriend, Kathy Einsteinhouse, dated July 22, 1969, 11 days after he stole the money from Society National. Kathy hadn't seen this letter in half a century.


I never really read this letter since….


Where did you get this?




It's another lonely night without my family and friends. I wish with all my heart that I could be with you now, but I guess in time, you'll be happier this way. I wish I could tell you where I am, but it's best that you don't know. I'd only begin to sink lower each time I heard from you. If only I could see or hear you, I'd be stronger. I never realized how wonderful you were until I lost you. Your wonderful little smile, that beautiful face, all those happy hours we spent alone, love was ours, but my blown mind did us all in. Please forgive me, dear.


This was not the tone of a letter written by a calculated criminal on the run. He sounds like a young man who made a big mistake. Someone desperate for love, friendship, and family.


I guess you got put through a lot because of me. I'm only one man, but sooner or later, I'll be found out. Maybe on that seventh year, we'll meet and fall in love. It's now seven days. Only six years and 358 days to go. I'll be waiting, and you'll be married with three marvelous little monsters. If you get a chance, say hi to Russ and Chris for me. They were such good friends to me. Russ was like a brother. I want to hold you close to me and tell you I'm in like with you and never stop. Love is the most wonderful yet terrible thing in the world. I want, I need, I cherish, I adore, I love, but I blew it. For what? A mere $219,500? Our love was worth six times that, one hundred times it. Please be with me.


Love always, Teddy.


My first thought was I look at it as how young we were and just what emotions you have when you're that age and how he must have felt. He must have been terrified.


Eventually, Ted did find peace, a family, love. It's a surprising aspect of the story. Someone commits a grand crime and is never caught, starts a new life that, in theory, looks a lot like the old one could have. He would get married and have a daughter, Ashley.


It's Ashley.


Oh, Ashley. You have such a beautiful child.


When Ashley and I first met, she'd never seen this letter either. So when we banded together to look into the life of Ted, I called her up and read it to her.


How are you feeling about that?


I always knew my dad as this very strong, very confident man. Hearing this letter, my heart just breaks for him. He just sounds like a really sad kid.




You know him to be the person who would have said something like this?


He was not a nostalgic person, and he was not someone who was emotionally earnest. I think that the only way I saw him like that was with my mom, Kathy. He was very much in love and earnest with her. It really does sound like a different person writing that letter.


He also seems very alone. Another lonely night without my family and friends. I've lost you. I want to hold you close to me and never stop.


Please be with me.


That, I think, tracks a little bit for the guy that I knew. Yeah. His entire world was the two of us. He was adamant about the fact that he did not want to live in a world without my mom. Maybe this loneliness carried over with him and he found companionship with my mom and he found this life.




But I could imagine a place where he was still at his core, lonely.


It feels to me like this is one detail about Ted that flies in the face of the idea that he was this clever, enterprising criminal. Do you know what I mean?


Yeah. I think that there is this whole narrative about him being this cool guy who gets away with a heist because he can't. But when I hear this letter, I think he must have just been so desperate to get away from something to put himself in this position where he is clearly devastated and alone and pining for what he gave up.


I also think it's probably important for us to mention just where this is in the timeline, right? This is two weeks after the heist.




July 22, 1969. Ted Conrad is presumably on the run. Even in the letter, he says something that the US marshals corroborated with us that he only has six years and 358 days to go. It does lead us to believe that he thought that there was some statute of limitations on the crime that he had committed, that after seven years, he would be able to be free if he could just be on the run for that long. I talked to Pete Elliot about this, and he mentioned to me that it doesn't really work that way when you're indicted for a crime by the federal government. There's no statute of limitations on that indictment.


Ted Conrad was a mystery to me, and certainly a mystery to his daughter, Ashley, but for different reasons. What does the name Ted Conrad mean to you?


Honestly? Nothing. I mean, I know that's the name people knew my dad by, but….


What's his actual name?


To Mom and me? I mean, he's just Tom. He's Tom Randall.


Ashley, I have to ask, why are you doing this story?


Well, there's a lot of things my dad hid from me. I need to figure out how much of what I know of him is the truth and how much is part of a story he's been telling for 50 years.


Like you want to figure out what's real and what isn't.


Yeah. It's almost like I'm trying to see him for the first time.


How Ted became Tom. That's next on My Fugitive Dad. Don't want to wait for the next episode? You don't have to. Unlock all episodes of Smokscreen, My Fugitive Dad, ad-free right now by subscribing to The Binge Podcast channel. Just click subscribe at the top of the Smoke Screen Show page on Apple Podcast 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.




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