Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Sobhraj

Catching the Serpent

In Bombay, Charles and Marie began working their scam again. Charles rebuilt his family by bringing in two lost Western women and made a quick score by drugging a Frenchman named Jean-Luc Solomon. Jean-Luc succumbed to the poison he had been given and died without regaining consciousness, turning a simple robbery into murder.

Charles, Marie, Mary Ellen and Barbara traveled to Delhi, where Charles wanted to run a scam. He quickly latched on to a tour group of French post-graduate students and became their unofficial guide around the city. The students considered themselves lucky to have found a fellow Frenchman in such a strange place, and when he offered them a pill that he said would ward off dysentery, many took it with gratitude.

His plan was to wait until the students became drowsy from his drug and then rob their rooms, but Charles' reach exceeded his grasp. The pills worked too quickly, and all around him in the lobby of the hotel, students were dropping like flies. When someone realized that the only people who were ill were those who took their new friend's "medicine," a trio of burly students wrestled Charles to the ground and sent for the police.

It was the beginning of the end for Charles Sobhraj.

Classic police work quickly rounded up the rest of Charles Sobhraj's crew and, Barbara and Mary Ellen were the first to crack. They told everything they knew.

Charles Sobhraj
Charles Sobhraj

Charles held out during two weeks of intense questioning without changing his story that he was a French merchant and an important one at that. But even he grew tired in the face of the mounting evidence that was coming in from all corners of the globe.

The Thais had a warrant, good for 20 years, out for Charles for his murders there. Nepal was interested in speaking with him about some killings there. He had escaped from a Greek jail and an Afghan prison, and the Turks had imprisoned his brother for a crime they both committed. The French wanted nothing to do with him, as he had been exiled many years before. The Indians charged him with murder, for killing Jean-Luc Solomon.

The accused were taken to Tihar Prison outside Delhi. 


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'