So, who is Charles Sobhraj and why is he in the limelight and what made him so infamous? He is one of those most wanted killers – ‘Splitting Killer’
Hatchand Bhaonani Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj, was born an illegitimate baby on 6th April, 1944, from a unmarried couple in Saigon, Vietnam. He savored different ethnic backgrounds. A Vietnamese mother and an Indian Sindhi father gave Charles Shobraj an Indian origin. As a child he oscillated between the two and he developed personality problems. After the family was forsaken, he was taken care of by a French army lieutenant who was his mother’s new boyfriend. After that, he was sent to France in a boarding school, from where he tried to abscond two times by sea route and once reached up to Djibout. He was insulted in the school and was the target for racial jokes. So, the escape plan execution.
Journey Towards Crime
As a neglected child he wanted to come back to his family from France. So, his father agreed to take him back and assured him to pay for his travel ticket. But, the ticket never came and this led to the minor crimes in his tender teenage. In 1963, he started small scale burglary for money to return back home and this landed him in jail in Paris.
Love Life and Marriages
Yes! He was in love with a young Parisian girl named Chantal Compagnon. She was supportive of him during his eight months imprisonment for driving a stolen car. They both got married after his release from jail. Using fake documents, they traveled to Asia through Eastern Europe where Chantal Gave birth to a baby girl Usha in 1970 in Mumbai, India. Later, his wife deserted him.
In Nepal, he was engaged to a 19-year-old Nihita Biswas while he was in prison. Nihita Biswas was a Big Boss 5 contestant which was a reality show.
During his first imprisonment, with his cunningness and manipulative ability, he got closer to a young and wealthy prison volunteer, Felix d’Escogne and they both shared their time in the high society of Paris and criminal world for smuggling. In India, Charles Sobhraj operated car and drug smuggling’s and soon he was caught in Delhi for robbery in a jewel shop. But, soon he escaped to Afghanistan with the help of Chantal by faking an illness.
This French serial killer has different nick names.
• The Serpent- Richard Neville’s book “The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj” / The Shadow of the Cobra published in 1979 and ‘Serpentine’ by Thomas Thompson gave him the nick name because of his cunning skills of escape and betrayal.
• Mass Murderer- It is alleged that he killed 12-24 people but each time he left no evidence.
• Bikini Killer- This is due to the fact that his victims were found in swim suits/bikinis. The first (known) murder of Teresa Knowlton from Seattle was committed in 1975 and she was found in a tidal pool in the Gulf of Thailand, drowned wearing a bikini, later the autopsy and forensic evidence revealed it as a murder and not an accident. Similar incidents happened with other girls and they were found to be wearing bikinis and hence the name “Bikini killer”.
Personality and Prey Finding
Charles Sobhraj is blessed with an inevitable charming personality which made it easy to attract his prey. Love for fame, money, women and adventurous lifestyle made this evil personality a psychopath. He knows many languages and is fluent in those. He used to befriend foreign girls, made them his followers with his charm and then made them victims. Machiavellian nature made him a celebrity even before his release from prison. His talent of escapes from high security jail around the world made him an over-confident manipulator. He is not an impulsive serial killer but a vague killer.
Drugs, Smuggling And Killing
Charles Sobhraj was largely indulged in drugs and smuggling to support his lavish lifestyle. He used to win hearts by misery and then kill. He poisoned students with heroin.
• Sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for drugging 2 French students, he was in Tihar jail, from their he escaped and was again caught.
• He went on a hunger strike and dramatized it to such an extent that his death penalty was reduced to 12 years imprisonment, where he again tried to escape in the 10th year by throwing a party for all guards and fellow prisoners and drugged them with sleeping pill.
• In Nepal, he was convicted for murder of Connie Jo Bronzich, an American backpacker in 1975.
The story of this blended character is well explained in a fictitious thriller Bollywood drama film based on true events, called ‘Main Aur Charles’, starring Randeep Hooda as this charming and mysterious con man having similar looks as that of Charles Sobhraj, from the perspective of an Indian cop, Amod Kanth who handled the notorious killer case.