The Serpent: How many people did The Serpent kill?

The Serpent: Herman Knippenberg on Marie-Andree Leclerc

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Tahar Rahim portrays serial killer Charles Sobhraj BBC’s The Serpent. Sobhraj was also known as the Bikini Killer, The Splitting Killer and The Serpent, due to the nature of his crimes. He is currently serving a life sentence in Nepal for two murders committed in the country in 1975 but unfortunately, Sobhraj is suspected of having many more victims. has everything you need to know.

How many people did The Serpent kill?

Charles Sobhraj is a notorious French serial killer, con artist and thief from Saigon, French Indochina.

Between 1975 and 1976, Sobhraj and fellow criminal Ajay Chowdhury (played by Amesh Edireweera) are believed to have committed at least a dozen murders and potentially more across Southeast Asia.

They preyed mainly on Western tourists, primarily beatniks, travelling the Hippie Trail of Southeast Asia through Nepal, Thailand and India.

His known victims were Teresa Knowlton (Alice Englert), Vitali Hakim (İlker Kaleli), Charmayne Carrou, Cornelia Hemker, Henricus Bitanja, Laurent Carriere, Connie Bronzick, Avoni Jacobs and Jean-Luc Solomon but there are believed to be many more.

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Teresa Knowlton

American tourist Teresa Knowlton, 21, is believed to have been Sobhraj’s first female victim.

When she met Sobhraj, Knowlton was on her way to Kathmandu, Nepal where she was going to study Tibetan Buddhism at Kopan Monastery.

She had been found drowned in a tidal pool in the Gulf of Thailand, wearing only a flowered bikini.

It was only months later her autopsy, as well as forensic evidence which proved her death was caused by murder and not accidental drowning.

Vitali Hakim, Charmayne Carrou Henk Bintanja and Cornelia Hemker

Vitali Hakim’s burned body was uncovered on the road close to the Pattaya resort where Sobhraj had been staying on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand.

Hakim’s French girlfriend Charamyne Carrou arrived at Sobhraj’s apartment in Thailand to investigate her husband’s disappearance at the same time Sobhraj had poisoned Dutch tourists Henk Bintanja, 29, and his fiancée Cornelia Hemker, 25.

In The Serpent, Bintanja and Hemker are portrayed as Willem Bloem (Armand Rosbak) and Lena Dekker (Ellie de Lange).

Fearing exposure, Sobhraj and Chowdhury killed Bintanja and Hemker. Their bodies were found strangled and burned on December 18, 1975, two days after they were killed.

Soon afterwards, Carrou was found drowned and wearing a similar bikini to Sobhraj’s first victim, Teresa Knowlton, earning himself the nickname The Bikini Killer.

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Laurent Carrière and Connie Bronzich

Sobhraj and his main accomplice Marie-Andree Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) often travelled throughout Europe and South East Asia on their victims’ passports and spent their money.

On December 18, 1975, Sobhraj and Leclerc entered Nepal using the passports of their Dutch victims, Bintanja and Hemker.

Betewen Decmber 21 and December 22, they murdered Canadian Laurent Carrière, 26, and American Connie Bronzich, 29. 

Sobhraj and Leclerc then returned to Thailand using Carrière’s and Bronzich’s passport.

Avoni Jacob

Sobhraj’s next victim was Israeli scholar Avoni Jacob, who was killed in Varanasi or Calcutta.

The Serpent killer then used his passport to travel with Chowdhury and Leclerc to Singapore, India and Bangkok in early 1976.

Jean Luc Soloman 

In Bombay, Sobhraj, Leclerc and his new accomplices, Barabra Smith and Mary Ellen Eather, poisoned Frenchman Jean Luc Soloman during a robbery.

As seen in The Serpent, the poison was intended to only incapacitate him, not lead to his death.

He was first convicted and jailed in India from 1976 to 1997, for the murder of Frenchman Jean-Luc Solomon during a robbery in Bombay.

On February 17, 1997, 52-year-old Sobhraj was released from Tihar prison with most warrants, evidence and witnesses lost, which meant he could not be tried for any of the murders committed in Thailand.

He also had no other extradition orders on him and he was able to return to France, promoting his infamy to tabloid media.

But in 2003, he returned to Nepal where he was spotted on the street by a journalist and was arrested two days later in the casino of the Yak and Yeti hotel. The reason for his return to Nepal remains unknown. 

Sobhraj was tried for the murder of American backpacker Connie Jo Boronzich, 29, and Canadian tourist Laurent Carrière, 26. They had been killed in late December 1975 in Nepal.

He received a life sentence for the two killings in August 2004, and he has been incarcerated in Kathmandu prison ever since. 

The Serpent is streaming on the BBC iPlayer now

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