True crime junkies know that there is nothing better than when a new documentary drops on Netflix. From Abducted in Plain Sight to American Murder: The Family Next Door, Netflix has made its mark with gripping and often unsettling documentaries profiling serial killers, domestic violence, and missing person cases.
Oftentimes, the popular streaming platform will adapt real-life crime stories for its film and television series. In 2021, Netflix released their latest series, The Serpent, which tells the story of Charles Sobhraj, a real-life serial killer in the mid- to late '70s. So, where is Sobhraj now?
‘The Serpent’ is based on real-life events from the 1970s.
Portrayed by Tahar Rahim in the series, Charles Sobhraj was a French serial killer, con artist, and thief who preyed on Western tourists throughout the Hippie Trail of Southeast Asia during the 1970s. In the series, Sobhraj is shown to live a privileged life with his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) and uses his right-hand man, Ajay Chowdhury (Amesh Edireweera), to lure and rob unsuspecting tourists.
Eventually, robbing tourists becomes dull, and Sobhraj murders his first victim, a 21-year-old American named Teresa Knowlton. The Serpent also has a thriller aspect, with Dutch investigator Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) trying to locate and find the true identity of the killer. Sobhraj was eventually caught in 1976.
The series ends with Sobhraj being released from jail after 19 years in prison.
In an interesting twist of events, The Serpent ends with Sobhraj being released from jail in 1997. However, instead of staying in France where he could have lived as a free man, he returned to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he could still be charged with crimes. “Sobhraj was detained for a 1975 murder, convicted, and then given a life sentence. In 2014, he was convicted of another 1975 murder and given an additional 20 years,” Screen Rant reports.
Sobhraj has been in prison, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to get out in one way or another. He has appealed his conviction several times, claiming he was sentenced without trial, but his conviction was upheld by the Patan Court of Appeals in 2005. In July 2008, he issued a press release through his fiancée, Nihita Biswas, asserting that he was never convicted of murder by any court and asking the media not to refer to him as a serial killer.
In July 2010, the Supreme Court of Nepal upheld the decision to give Sobhraj a life sentence for the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich, plus a fine for entering Nepal illegally after Sobhraj entered another appeal.
After his appeal was denied, he also accused the judge of racism. According to a recent report, Sobhraj has had several open-heart surgeries while in prison and is set to have at least one more.
How many people did the Serpent kill?
When it comes to the victim count for Charles Sobjrah, some say that he murdered up to 12 people during his crime spree. It appears he preyed mainly on Western tourists, primarily hippies and beatniks, traveling the Hippie Trail of Southeast Asia. In 1976, Sobhraj is believed to have killed 10 travelers on the hippie trail through Nepal, Thailand, and India.
His known victims were Teresa Knowlton, Vitali Hakim, Stephanie Parry, Cornelia Hemker and Henricus Bitanja, Laurent Carriere, Connie Bronzick, Allen Jacobs, and Jean-Luc Solomon.
Stream The Serpent on Netflix today.