This Is How Charles Sobhraj Was Caught And Sentenced For The Final Time

For over a decade, the elusive conman and murderer Charles Sobhraj left a trail of dead along Southeast Asia's Hippie Trail. His cunning nature and penchant for assuming the identities of his victims led to three prison breakouts and kept him out of the grasp of law enforcement for years. But eventually, his twisted life caught up to him. In 2003, a return to Kathmandu, Nepal — the only place where he was still wanted — led to his arrest. By 2004, reports Digital Spy, he was behind bars, where he remains to this day.

In the end, Sobhraj's arrogance paved the way for his reckoning. His wanted status in Nepal led to him being recognized as the accused behind the 1975 murder of American backpacker Connie Bronzich, and he was ultimately charged with the murder of two tourists that year, per CNN.

As reported by Radio Times, Herman Knippenberg, whose evidence helped charge Sobhraj for the final time and sentence him to life in Nepal's Central Prison, told The Telegraph that he believed the serial killer's fatal flaw was his insatiable appetite for living on the edge. "I think, in essence, his downfall is that he is the born gambler," he said.

Given his penchant for prison breaks, it is probably no surprise that Sobhraj is trying to secure his release. Per Firstpost, the serial killer has claimed innocence for his alleged crimes in Nepal and argued that his health issues are not being properly addressed.

Knippenberg's obsession played a key role in Sobhraj's final arrest

To support his appeal, he pointed to Nepal's Jail Manual, which at the time had recently added guidelines that ensure the release of elderly convicts.

Although Sobhraj 's downfall was undoubtedly driven by his arrogance, Knippenberg's fixation on bringing the gruesome killer to justice was another invaluable piece of the puzzle. The spark of this fixation all began at a morgue in 1976, where the former Dutch diplomat was left reeling after seeing the corpses of a Dutch couple who had been brutally murdered by Sobhraj before he set their bodies aflame. From here, CNN reported that Knippenberg could never quite shake the case of the infamous Serpent. 

According to the investigator, he became bound to the case due to a gnawing sense of injustice he couldn't escape. "I was confronted with a situation in which innocent people were losing their lives and nobody lifted a finger. I saw that as the complete failure of democracy," he said.

Knippenberg's drive drove a search that spanned decades, which allowed the investigator to amass a plethora of evidence on the elusive serial killer that would ultimately lead to Sobhraj's arrest and conviction. Even now, CNN claimed that Knippenberg isn't at peace, due to the number of unsolved murders likely linked to Sobhraj.

An eight-part BBC series relating the tale, titled The Serpent, begins streaming on Netflix beginning April 2.