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Most Charming Serial Killler Charles Shobhraj: Nerve Chilling True Story of Charles Sobhra

Most Charming Serial Killler Charles Shobhraj: Nerve Chilling True Story of Charles Sobhra

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.” These horrifying words by the Serial killer Ted Bundy showcase the truly wicked nature of serial killers, who usually show no remorse for the victims they claim.

Most times they believe they are entitled to the victims they have murdered and somehow own them and their story. Such is the macabre tale of the serial killer Charles Shobhraj and his killing sprees and robberies that shook the nation of India and the world altogether.

Who is Charles Shobhraj?

Hotchand Bhawnani Gurmukh Sobhraj otherwise known as Charles Shobhraj was born on 6th April 1944 in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam. He was the result of the union of an Indian man and a Vietnamese woman named Sobhraj Hatchard Bavani and Tran Loang Phun. He was born during the time Vietnam was under French control, which gave him the chance to claim French citizenship. He kept migrating back and forth from Vietnam and France with his family.

Early crimes of Charles Shobraj

As a young Parisian in the streets of Paris, Charles took to committing petty crimes like burglary. His first sentence appeared in the form of an eight-month sentence for a robbery in 1963. He served his duration in the Poissy Prison in France. There he, using his charming good looks and amazing manipulative skills, managed to order around the police. They allowed young Charles to keep goodies and books in his jail cell. There he also managed to befriend a wealthy man volunteering in the prison named Felix d'Escogne.

After being released from prison he mooched off of his wealthy Parisian friend and volunteer he met in prison. Thus began his journey of gallivanting between the high society of France and even the criminal underworld. He truly embodied both sides of the same coin, enjoying a life of riches and crimes together. His thieving crimes allowed him to accumulate riches and live a life of luxury. Soon he started a romantic entanglement with a young Parisian woman named Chantal Compagnon.

Move to India

Charles’s romance soon heralded into a proposal and as Chantal and he was preparing for marriage, he was taken under custody for riding in a stolen vehicle. Thus he was sentenced again to eight months in prison. They were soon married right after their release as Chantal had remained loyal and attached to Charles. To escape further persecution and arrest they soon fled to Asia in 1970, in hopes of starting a new life. The arrival of their daughter Usha in the city of Mumbai in the year 1970, made Charles even more inducted into the world of crimes and burglary.

In 1973 he was again convicted and arrested in India after an attempt for robbery at the Ashok Jewellers in Delhi. But with Chantal’s help, he managed to escape but to no avail, he was soon caught in 1973.

After applying for his bail, he bolted for Kabul. There his journey of crimes continued and he kept robbing tourists and managed to change his identity and evade the authorities using at least ten stolen passports. His crimes wrap around the entire continent including Turkey, Istanbul, and Athens Greece right alongside India and France.


Charles Shobraj soon gave up the life of petty thievery and moved to major crimes. Using his good looks, charms, and wit he managed to befriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc a tourist from Levis, Quebec who aided him and was a staunch supporter and follower of his life and even crimes.

After Chantal, frustrated with the life of crime that Shobhraj led, left for France, he started to dupe richer tourists out of their money and eventually murdered them. With his cunning nature, Charles would first help the powerful and the rich out of tight spots. Then he’d curry favors from them and commit crimes and even manage to evade the authorities.

Likewise, he committed his first murder in 1975, and his victim was a young woman belonging to Seattle named Teresa Knowlton. She was found drowned in a pool wearing a floral swimsuit so her death was chalked up to be an accidental tourist death. But in truth, she was murdered by Charles Shobraj.

This was proved by the Post mortem conducted on the victim’s body showed signs of foul play involved. His list of victims multiplied over the years including Vitali Hakim a Turkish Jew, and Charmayne Carrou who was found in similar circumstances as Teresa Knowlton, Henk Bintanja and Cornelia Hemker both students visiting Hongkong.

Conviction in India

Charles Shobhraj was found guilty of twelve murder charges and investigators postulate that there might have been at least thirty victims. Charles was finally sentenced to twelve years in prison and he turned his trials into a public spectacle in hopes of fame as a serial killer. Even in Prison, his reign of terror didn’t end.

Using his sly and charismatic behavior Shobhraj managed to live a life of comfort in prison. On 17 February 1997, he drugged his prison inmates and guards at a party and walked out of the prison, showcasing his heinous side and no remorse for the lives he claimed.

Charles was captured in a restaurant in Goa dining in a restaurant named O'Coqueiro Restaurant, where a statue of him sitting and dining with a smile on his face is showcased for the onlookers. This incident extended his punishment to ten more years.

Conviction in Nepal

After being released from prison in India, Charles was allowed to move back to France where he lived a luxurious life giving interviews, pictures, and making documentaries and charging a hefty sum for them.

In 2003 however, Charles returned to Nepal, Kathmandu, where upon his return the double murder case was reopened and he was declared guilty by the authorities. Soon he was captured in a casino gambling and imprisoned and sentenced with the court orders of life imprisonment.

Life of fame and glory

Charles Shobhraj in the GQ magazine of April 4th, 2021 was named, “handsome, charming and utterly without scruple". Using his wits and good looks and his ability to evade the authorities and his infamous murders showing the patterns of women ending up in floral swimsuits earned him the nickname of the “Bikini Killer”, “Splitting Killer”, “the Serpent”.

Even while in Jail, he managed to live a life of comfort and ease despite the horrific crimes he committed. Like almost all serial killers, Charles Shobhraj enjoyed the limelight and all the attention directed toward his life as a habitual offender a thief, and a murderer. His risk-ridden life has been the subject of various recreations through books, magazine covers, movies, and even documentaries. Highlighting his life dedicated to crimes and how his wit managed to shield him for a long time from any consequences.

The most important works “inspired” by his life of felonies and misdemeanors that catapulted him into the status of a celebrity worldwide range from, three documentaries, a Bollywood movie named “Main aur Charles”, and the eight-part Netflix series christened “the serpent”.

After spending almost the rest of his life in prison, Charles Shobharaj was released from prison because of his old age and ailments on December 21, 2022. Soon after his release he was deported to France on the 23rd of December to live out the rest of his life and fade into obscurity. Thus the life of heinous crimes, charms, and wit finally meets an albeit late but fitting end.

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