Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj aka “The Serpent” or “The Bikini Killer” was one of the weirdest serial killers of history. He was believed to have murdered around 20 people. His only motive for the killing was to travel to different parts of the world.
For this desire to come true, he used to kill wealthy travelers, hippies; rob them, and travel around the world using their passports also with fake identities. He murdered people by poisoning, sometimes by drowning them.
He got his name the serpent from people because of the way of escaping he used after committing a crime and he was famous as a bikini killer because of the attire which a victim wore while dying. While his arrest in India, he was considered to be a celebrity because of daily news about him. After getting released from Indian Jail, he got re-arrested by Nepal Police in 2003.
Early Life of Charles Sobhraj
Born to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother, he was not a well-cared child. Both his parents were in a relationship and never married. After Sobhraj’s delivery, his father left them and married another girl. His mother married a french lieutenant who took them to France.
Even though he was in France, he used to visit his father in Saigon frequently but got neglected by him eventually. Even in France with the arrival of his cousins, he got ignored which made him commit small crimes.
Because of a burglary case, he went to jail for the first time in 1963. He befriended Felix d’Escogne who introduced Sobhraj to other elite classes and underworld criminals.
Meanwhile, he got into a relationship with Chantal Compagnon who supported him for almost all of his crimes. They traveled from one country to another after committing a crime to avoid arrest. Soon Chantal delivered a girl in Mumbai, who was named Usha.
Till now they were just robing instead of killing and escaped from police twice by claiming false illnesses. With his increasing gambling addiction and crimes, Chantal separated from him.
It was believed that he had almost 10 passports which he used to travel. Now Andre, Sobhraj’s half-brother accompanied him till they got separated in greek jail as Sobhraj escaped leaving Andre behind.
Andre was then sentenced to 18 years imprisonment by Turkish police.
Crimes Committed by The Serpent
He went to India to remain away from getting arrested on the way of which he robbed several victims. Sobhraj met his new companion, Marie-Andree Leclerc who supported him in all his future crimes.
With the companion, he thought of having some more loyal people around him. Hence he befriended two french policemen by returning their passports which he himself stole.
He also met a french citizen to whom he provided shelter and treated his dysentery problem, which was actually caused due to his drug. His way of defrauding people was very peculiar, he used to gain trust from victims and then rob them.
That is the reason, investigators said that there was the presence of Sobhraj and his clan at every crime scene. In India, he also made Ajay Chowdhary his companion who committed all crimes along with Sobhraj. Their first victim was Teresa Knowlton who was found dead wearing a bikini onshore.
Another bikini murder was of Charmayne Carrou, girlfriend of Vitali Hakim. After this murder, he got his name as the bikini killer. Vitali Hakim was one of the tri’s victims followed by dutch students Henk Bintanja and Cocky Hemkar.
Passports of the student couple helped them to fly to Nepal and the couple was found dead burnt in a hotel where the clan was also staying.
In Nepal, the clan murdered Laurent and Connie and soon returned back to Thailand from where their next plan was to rob someone from Varanasi or Calcutta.
In India, they murdered Avoni Jacob, and using his passport they flew to Singapore for the first time. Meanwhile here the french companions started suspecting them of murders after seeing documents of the victims.
Dutch police also started an investigation about them using their sources knowing which clan took off to Malaysia. In Malaysia, to avoid any further trouble, also because Chowdhary was being spied, Sobhraj killed Chowdhary.
Sobhraj’s crime spree continued with two new companions. They gave some poisonous pills to a bunch of students claiming it to be anti-dysentery pills. Due to the unawareness of the amount, some of them started getting affected more and seeing this other informed police which made new companions of Sobhraj surrender.
Investigators informed that all deaths were seemingly drug overdoses but were as per Sobhraj’s plan. A drug overdose case will make him famous since the victim will confess the drug dealer’s name.
Indian police apprehended Sobhraj due to the murder of another victim named Soloman when the trio came to India previously.
Life in Prison
After the trial, he was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. At the same time, Nepal police also presented all evidence and received a sentence of 20 years against him.
Because of the bribe (he hid some precious gems), he lived a lavish life even in jail and got this information of 20 years in jail.
The other night he threw a party, drugged every prison official, and freely moved out of the jail without any hindrance. This act extended his sentence in prison as per his plan as it expired the sentence validity of Nepal.
Once released, he went to France from where he traveled to Nepal and started a water business.
Spied by a reporter, he was arrested by Nepal police while gambling for previous murders. Evidence was provided by dutch police and the reporter who was spying on him for news reports.
He married a Nepalese girl named Nihita Biswas, who along with her advocate mother tried to bail Sobhraj but got refused by Nepal supreme court.
Sobhraj’s companion Marie got arrested for some crimes by police and released after completing her sentence period. But was later reported that she died due to uterus cancer.
By 2019, he was reported to have cardiac problems and according to April 2021 report, he is still in jail with a poor health condition.
The case of the bikini killer was the craziest one as he used to poison, kill and rob just to travel around the world. His victims portrayed him to be a handsome and well-mannered guy. He was so much interested in popularity that even in jail sentence he gave several interviews and gave permission to produce a film on him.
When asked whether he had any remorse for his murders, he smiled and replied that the people he killed were not good (justifying his crimes). In 2015, a film named “Main Aur Charles” was released starring Randeep Hooda and others, portraying the autobiography of Charles Sobhraj.