Ashley Randele: Where is Ted Conard’s Daughter Now?

Image Credit: Ashley Randele/The Washington Post

As a podcast living up to its title in nearly every way conceivable, ‘Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad’ can only be described as equal parts baffling, entertaining, intriguing, haunting, and surprising. That’s because it carefully revolves around the tale of 1969 bank robber Theodore “Ted” Conrad, who eventually evolved into Thomas Randele through the eyes of his sole child, daughter Ashley. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about her — with a particular focus on her upbringing, her relationship with her father, as well as her current known standing — we’ve got the details for you.

Who is Ashley Randele?

It was admittedly back in early 2021 when Lynnfield, Massachusetts, native Ashley’s entire world turned upside down for two very significant reasons related to just her father, Thomas (aka Tom). He first got diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of lung cancer in February, shortly following which he suddenly confessed to being a fugitive on the run for more than half a century. She was actually watching ‘NCIS’ beside her parents in their family home after his very first chemotherapy session when he dropped this bomb, only for her to initially think he was making a “dad joke.”

Image Credit: CBS Boston

Ashley still vividly remembers, “[My dad] very nonchalantly said, ‘Ladies, in case something ever comes up after I pass, I wanted to let you know that when I moved here, I changed my name. You can’t tell anybody because the authorities are probably still looking for me, and I don’t want to talk about it.’ I [immediately] thought, ‘This is the worst dad joke ever,’ and then realized he wasn’t actually joking.” Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the next day this 35-year-old got the courage to really face him and demand to know his identity based on the sheer fact she’s his blood, his kid, his lone real family.

That’s when Tom hesitantly revealed his birth name was Theodore “Ted” Conard, just to then quickly make Ashley promise she wouldn’t look into it further or do anything else with this information. However, because the revelation kept her awake all night, she decided she needed to delve deeper by taking out her laptop, sitting up in her childhood bed, and Googling his given name at 2:30 am. This is how she learned her father, then a vault teller at the Society National Bank in Cleveland, Ohio, had robbed his place of employment of $215,000 (the equivalent of $1.7 million today) on July 11, 1969.

As per reports, Ted needed the money to get out of a bad family situation at the time, so he just quietly packed up a brown paper bag with the cash following his shift on the fateful Friday and left. This 20-year-old subsequently landed in Boston, where he initially rented a penthouse apartment while rarely working — he thus depleted his funds rather quickly and had to return to the open workforce. In fact, by the time he came across the future mother of his daughter, Kathy Mahan, in the late 1970s, he was already serving as a professional car salesman to make ends meet month to month.

Image Credit: NBC News/YouTube

Ted (aka Tom) then traded his once swanky city life for the suburbs as a family man, meaning he also kind of left behind his days of acting out his favorite Steve McQueen film, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair.’ We should mention he’d truly cut off all contact with everyone he once knew to maintain his ruse, telling his wife that his parents had passed away in a car crash and he had no other close relatives. He even made his birth year 1947 upon assuming his new identity in Massachusetts, making him two years older than he was — for him, all of this was a desperate necessity as he didn’t want to get caught.

With all this information, Ashley confronted her father again the ensuing morning by expressing her mother deserved to know the truth too, only for him to agree yet assert he couldn’t do it. Therefore, she ended up being the one to pull Kathy aside: “[My mom] was reading through the articles online, and she just kept saying, ‘Oh my God! Oh, my God!,’ for like 10 minutes… She’d known him for the better part of 40 years, and to learn this massive secret – I can’t imagine how traumatizing that was for her.” Yet, once everything was out in the open, the first thing this duo told Ted/Tom was that they still loved him very much, and nothing about his past could change it.

Tom was Ashley’s best friend in every sense of the term; he was her closest confidant, pillar, as well as support system, so she knew in her heart that although a criminal, he’d never harm anyone. She did admittedly get a little angry with him after his passing in May of the same year since she remembered her vow to keep her last name even upon getting married to ensure it wouldn’t die with him. Yet now, she was left confused over her own identity, just to gradually become content by exploring his past and confirming Tom and Ted were truly the same people in every way that mattered.

Where is Ashley Randele Now?

Considering everything Ashley and Kathy had learned regarding their Tom, they’d mutually decided to come forward with his secret around a year after his demise to close the cold robbery case for good. However, the Federal Marshals beat them to it thanks to an anonymous tip from a caller who’d connected the dots from his May 2021 obituary — though his death thankfully meant no conviction or prison time. Plus, since neither of the two women was involved in the matter, they had no owed liability toward the bank or the government, especially as the money was long, long, long gone.

Coming to Ashley’s current standing, from what we can tell, this 38-year-old Salem State University graduate has since found solace by understanding nothing she experienced with Tom was fake in any manner. Moreover, her gradually growing connections with people from his past are helping her along the way too — whether it be family members she never knew of, old friends, or federal officials, their personal touch is part of her healing. As for her professional experiences, it appears as if she currently serves as a Senior Customer Care Manager at Stuart Weitzman while also co-hosting the ‘Smoke Screen: My Fugitive Dad’ podcast. She’d actually established the latter to showcase Tom/Ted’s reality from every angle: as a brilliant thief, a cunning runaway, a loving husband, a caring dad, as well as an excellent secret keeper.

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