Charles Sobhraj was a serial killer known for a string of killings in Vietnam in the 1970's. Born to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother, he spent most of his childhood on the rough streets of Saigon. In 1962, he served time for stealing a car in France, after which he married and had a daughter, but later abandoned his family. During the 1970's he befriended mostly western tourists in Asia, later drugging and killing them. Between 1972 and 1976,
it is speculated he killed anywhere from 12 to 24 people. After several escapes from prison, he became known as "The Serpent." He was caught for the last time and imprisoned in 2004.
Serial killer, thief. Born on April 6, 1944, in Saigon, Vietnam. Charles Sobhraj was first called the ??Bikini Killer?? after the swimsuit one of his victims was wearing when she was discovered. He then earned the nickname ??the Serpent?? for his numerous escapes from jail. The son of an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj spent part of his childhood on the rough streets of Saigon and was shuttled back and forth between his parents. His mother later had another child and married a soldier in the French Army who initially rejected Sobhraj.
In 1962, Sobhraj served time for stealing a car in France. After his release, he married and had a daughter, but later abandoned his family. Sobhraj eventually linked up with Marie-Andrée Leclerc who became his mistress and accomplice. During the 1970s, he befriended mostly western tourists in Asia, drugging and killing them. According to The New York Times, it is believed that he killed between 12 to 24 people from 1972 to 1976.
For years, Sobhraj traveled around Europe and Asia. According to an article in the Boston Globe, he escaped custody in at least four countries. Whenever he went, he prayed on the unsuspecting. Fluent in several languages, he was a skilled con artist who often targeted young backpackers were exploring what was known as the ??Hippie Trail,?? which runs through Afghanistan and Nepal into Southeast Asia.
It was a botched attack that led to his undoing. He attempted to poison a group of French tourists in India in 1976. Several of his intended victims were able to fight the drug??s effects long enough to get help. While Thailand wanted him extradited to face murder charges there, the Indian government decided to try Sobhraj and Leclerc for the murder of an Israeli tourist. Convicted on a lesser charge, Sobhraj was sentenced to seven years. The Thai government was told that it would have to wait until after he finished his sentence before he would be able to be tried there.
In 1986, Sobhraj escaped along with several other inmates from Tibar Prison in New Delhi after drugging guards during a party. He was captured less than a month later. This escape proved to be yet another calculated move by the Serpent. With his additional sentence for the escape, Sobhraj remained in prison in India until after the statute of limitations on his crimes in Thailand ran out, according to Newsweekmagazine.
After finishing sentence in 1997, Sobhraj was released from jail. He eventually returned to France, but his newfound freedom would only last so long. He was arrested in Nepal in 2003 and was later tried and convicted of the murder of two backpackers there in 1975 despite having very little evidence. He tried to escape from prison in 2004, but failed. The Serpent has been caught??at least for the time being.