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Charles Shobhraj ,'The Serpent'

The true story of India's deadliest serial killer

By Akshay MRPublished about a month ago 3 min read

Charles Sobhraj, known as "The Serpent" or "The Bikini Killer," is a name that strikes fear into the hearts of many. Unlike the more infamous serial killers like Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, Sobhraj's notoriety is often overlooked, despite his heinous crimes being closer to home for many. What sets Sobhraj apart is not just his status as a serial killer but also his prowess as a scam artist, jewel thief, and fraudster. His story is one of intrigue, manipulation, and cunning, making him one of the most intriguing criminals in history.

Born in Saigon, Sobhraj's criminal career spanned continents, with most of his killings taking place in Southeast Asia during the 1970s and 1980s. His childhood was marked by constant shuffling between Asia and France, and his criminal tendencies emerged early on. At the age of 19, in 1963, Sobhraj was convicted of burglary and sent to prison. It was during this time that he met Felix Descogney, a wealthy prison volunteer, who would become a pivotal figure in Sobhraj's life. Upon his release, Sobhraj moved in with Felix, marking the beginning of a series of criminal exploits that would define his life.

With Felix's connections, Sobhraj seamlessly navigated between the criminal underworld of Paris and the city's high society. He was described as a "social class chameleon," able to adapt and thrive in any environment. In 1970, Sobhraj married a young Parisian woman named Chantal Compagnon, and the couple traveled to Asia. It was here that Sobhraj indulged in petty crimes to support himself and his pregnant wife, robbing tourists and traveling on stolen passports under false identities.

As Sobhraj's criminal portfolio expanded, so did his notoriety. He engaged in activities such as stealing cars, smuggling, and even armed robbery. His criminal connections in Paris and his further exploits in Asia landed him in jail multiple times. However, Sobhraj's ability to manipulate those around him, including guards and fellow inmates, often led to his escape.

One of Sobhraj's most infamous escapes occurred in Kabul, where he drugged a guard and simply walked out of the hospital where he was being treated. This escape, like many others, was facilitated by Sobhraj's charm and ability to make others trust him implicitly. Despite his criminal activities, Sobhraj also had a knack for gaining people's loyalty through his wit and charm. He would often present himself as a solution to a target's problems, gaining their trust before ultimately betraying them.

In Thailand, Sobhraj continued his life of crime, posing as a drug dealer and jewel salesman while secretly carrying out his murderous schemes. He met Marie-Andrée Leclerc, a French-Canadian traveler who became his most devoted accomplice. Together, they lured in victims, drugged them, and stole their identities, moving from country to country under false pretenses.

Sobhraj's reign of terror came to an end in 1976 when he was finally caught in New Delhi, India. He was sentenced to 12 years for attempted robbery but continued to manipulate those around him, bribing police officers and living a lavish life in prison. After serving his sentence, Sobhraj returned to Paris, where he lived as a quasi-celebrity due to the publicity surrounding his crimes and trial.

In 2003, Sobhraj's past caught up with him once again when he was recognized and arrested in Kathmandu, Nepal, for the murders of two North American backpackers from 1975. He was tried and sentenced to life in prison, where he remains to this day. Despite his crimes, Sobhraj still maintains his innocence, justifying his actions by claiming that he never killed "good people."

The life and crimes of Charles Sobhraj are a chilling reminder of the power of manipulation and charm. His ability to deceive and betray those around him is a testament to his cunning nature. Sobhraj's story serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers of trusting too easily and the ease with which a charming facade can hide a dark and twisted mind.


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  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Amazing 🤩 superb wonderfull story really appreciate it

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