The Serpent: Whatever Happened To Ajay Chowdhury?

Charles Sobhraj – the French crook, scam artist, and serial killer (pictured above) — spent much of the 1970s committing increasingly serious crimes throughout Southeast Asia, France, and India. He scammed the wealthy out of their riches, used a seemingly endless stream of false identities, and killed at least a dozen people either for his idea of fun or to cover up his crimes. And perhaps his greatest weapon in pulling off a seemingly endless crime spree was his ability to bring people — charmed lovers, gullible victims, and willing collaborators alike — into the fold with his magnetism and good looks.

One of Sobhraj's most trusted associates was Ajay Chowdhury, an Indian from New Delhi, who helped the Frenchman commit a series of passport thefts, robberies, and murders in the 1970s, according to the Nepalese police and Interpol, the Telegraph reported. Authorities also believe that Sobhraj frequently tasked Chowdhury with burning the bodies of their victims to slow down the identification process and to keep police at bay.

In 1975, Sobhraj and Chowdhury, as well as Sobhraj's girlfriend, Canadian Marie-Andree Leclerc, are believed to have committed their first murders together. First, it was Dutch tourist Henricus Bintanja and his girlfriend Cornelia Hemker, whose passports Sobhraj and Leclerc used to go from Bangkok to Kathmandu, per CNN.

Ajay Chowdhury commits his first murder with Sobhraj

Then, according to Nepal police, Sobhraj befriended American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich and her companion Canadian Laurent Carriere before killing them both, the BBC reported.

Chowdhury (pictured above) was spotted at the same five-star hotel in Kathmandu where Sobhraj was staying, and was believed to be involved in the double murder. However, Chowdhury managed a narrow escape. "After the discovery of the bodies, we traced Chowdhury to a hotel in Kathmandu," Bishwa Lal Shrestha, the police officer investigating the case in 1975, told the Hindustan Times. "But he gave us the slip." That was as close as authorities ever got to Chowdhury.

In 1976, in New Delhi, and with a new band of criminals, police finally caught up with Sobhraj and Leclerc and jailed them both. Chowdhury remained at large throughout it all. Some accounts suggest Sobhraj murdered Chowdhury in 1976, when the three had gone to Malaysia. But Shrestha says there have been traces of Chowdhury over the years, and Interpol still has interest in him. He also suggests Nepal would be a likely choice, telling the Hindustan Times, "[A]fter 30 years, it would be easy for Chowdhury to hide himself."

On April 2, Netflix will begin to stream BBC One's eight-part dramatization of Sobhraj's story, titled The Serpent.