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This prison was where the worst criminals in Afghanistan were sent to rot, and in the intense heat wave of 1972, 29 year old Charles Sobhraj could hardly breathe the air more heat than oxygen he had to escape.


It wasn't the first time Charles found himself needing to escape. He had done it less than a year earlier in India. That time, he'd been able to drug his guard. But to scare the unflappable Afghani's, he needed to escalate his theatrics.


In Afghanistan, prisoners were responsible for their own food. So Charles employed a runner called a bachelor to get essentials like bread or rice or tea. Today, he instructed his bachelor to bring him a syringe and a glass.


Charles cell mate watched in horror as he used the syringe to draw his own blood and transfer it to the glass when it was filled to the brim.


Charles toasted his cellmate and drank the entire thing. Then he called for the guards, moaning and writhing in pain.


By the time they reached his cell, Charles was vomiting blood, thinking he had a bleeding ulcer. Prison officials rushed him to the hospital while under medical care.


Charles waited for his moment to strike. After a few days, he slipped a sedative into his guard's cup of tea once the guard passed out. Charles broke free of his shackles and strolled out of the hospital a free man.


It was just one of many audacious escapes for Charles Sobhraj, a man capable of slithering out of precarious situations.


This skill earned him his first nickname, the Serpent. And like many snakes, Charles was deadly.


Hi, I'm Greg Polson. This is Serial Killers, a Spotify original from podcast. Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers.


Today, we begin our dive into the life and murders of Charles Sobhraj, a con artist turned serial killer who terrorized Southeast Asia. I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson.


Hi, everyone. You can find episodes of Serial Killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Today, we'll explore how Charles's tumultuous upbringing led him to a life in and out of prison.


Next time, we'll follow Charles as he leaves a trail of bodies all over Southeast Asia, earning him a reputation as the bikini killer.


We've got all that and more coming up. Stay with us. We're all born with the need to be nurtured and loved. We cry out for our parents when we're hurt or when we're scared. For those who is please go unheard. However, they desire for affection is sometimes unbearable and can lead down a dark road.


Charles Sobhraj never felt the love and support of a stable family. He was born in the spring of 1944 in Saigon, French Indochina, better known today as Vietnam.


His mother was a shopgirl named Channe Luang Fern, who went by Neut and his father, who shunned Sobhraj, was a wealthy Indian textile merchant. But the union wasn't to last.


When Charles was only two years old, Neut took her son away from home Hunt after learning he had another wife back in India.


Fortunately for Neut, she found a new start with French Army Lieutenant Alphonse Dero. They fell in love and married in 1948 when Charles was four.


But Charles wanted nothing to do with his new stepfather and longed to be reunited with his real family. He got his wish in 1949 when Neut moved to France with Alfonz and sent five year old Charles to live with his father. But the reunion didn't go as Charles expected, just like his mother, who shunned, had remarried and started a new family amidst the growing number of half siblings. Charles struggled to compete for her son's attention and felt unbearably neglected.


Vanessa is going to take over and the psychology here and throughout the episode. Please note, Vanessa is not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but she has done a lot of research for this show.


Thanks, Greg. Unlike some of the serial killers we've discussed in the past, Charles never faced physical or sexual abuse. Instead, he endured a different kind of childhood trauma. He was ignored in favor of his half brothers and sisters. According to psychiatrist Bruce Perry, feelings of parental neglect can lead to increased aggression and cruelty. He adds that one of the most disturbing elements of this aggression is that it is often accompanied by a detached, cold lack of empathy.


Charles started showing signs of this developing aggression over the next three years. He joined a gang of street thugs who attacked and robbed unsuspecting tourists.


Unsurprisingly, his criminal activity didn't win his father's affection.


In fact, when Noyan Alfonz returned to Saigon in 1952, Hogan sent eight year old Charles back to his mother.


It's likely that the feeling of being unwanted by both parents haunted Charles for the rest of his life. In Saigon, Charles was still a handful, so in an attempt to curtail the unruly behavior, stepfather Alfonz formally adopted Charles. But it made no difference. The young boy was beyond caring about the acceptance of his family.


Worse, as he got older. Charles started showing signs of Machiavellianism, the psychological trait based around manipulation. And his favorite victim was his half brother, Andre.


Andre idolized his older brother, which made him the perfect target for Charles's machinations. When Charles was 10 years old, he convinced two year old Andre to steal from a shopkeeper when the toddler was caught. Andre confessed to their mother that Charles put him up to it, to which Charles proudly scoffed.


I can always find an idiot to do what I want.


It was clear to neut that something had to be done before things got out of hand.


So in 1959, Neut moved the family from Saigon to Marseilles, hoping the change would help to manage Charles's behavior and further his education. She enrolled the 15 year old in an agricultural school, but it didn't help, though he did display an industrious nature.


That December, Charles tried to make some pocket money by selling Christmas cards on the street. But his sales tactics were aggressive.


The troubled teen was arrested for threatening people with a knife when they refused to buy his cards.


In another bid to reform her son, Neut secured Charles a job at a cafe in Paris. Perhaps some menial labor would straighten him out.


That year, Charles bounced from one Parisian restaurant to another, either working as a busboy or kitchen hand, peeling vegetables and washing dishes.


Charles hated the work, but Nowy refused to let her son slide. She needed structure.


Charles moved up in the ranks of fine dining and near the end of 1960 became a busboy at La Coupal, a favorite eatery for the Parisian elite, according to journalist Thomas Thompson at La Cupola.


Charles caught glimpses of high society from his place in the back.


Those few seconds, as the kitchen door flapped open, were enough to inspire Charles to strive for more to be rich like them, and he would do whatever it took to get there.


But for now, he bided his time. It was during a shift at Le Cupola in 1961 that 17 year old Charles was summoned from his post in the kitchen.


When he got to the front of the restaurant, Charles saw an Indian man waiting for him.


When the stranger called him by his Indian name, Jermoluk, Charles realized he was staring at his father son, Sobhraj. Charles couldn't have been more thrilled. He always knew deep down that his father loved him and would one day reclaim him.


As they reconnected, Charles recounted how horrible his life was with Noyan, his stepfather. He said they were abusive, claiming that they'd forced him to quit school to work in restaurant kitchens for slave wages.


To hear Charles tell it, his mother showed him no love and threw him to the proverbial wolves, shunned by Charles his lies and vowed to save his son from this awful fate.


In the spring of 1961, 17 year old Charles returned to his father's home in Saigon.


However, upon his arrival, Charles discovered that he had even more siblings to compete with than before. Hogan now had nine other children, perhaps in a bid to gain his father's attention.


Charles reverted to his life of crime. Only now he upped the ante instead of just petty theft.


Charles began stealing cars like Neut Holditch and was frustrated by his son's misdeeds and didn't know what to do. But he believed that a lack of identity caused his son's rebellion. Legally, Charles wasn't Vietnamese, Indian or French Holditch and hoped that if Charles was officially declared an Indian citizen, perhaps a newfound sense of identity would change his ways.


But the citizenship process was long to be considered. Charles needed to leave his father and stay on Indian soil for a year. The team didn't take kindly to being banished half a world away to live with distant cousins. And after two failed attempts to return to Saigon, Ho Chun gave Charles an ultimatum. Stay in India for the full year or be disowned.


Yet for reasons that have never become clear, by the time Charles returned to Bombay, his father had already cut him off financially, regardless of whether Charles stayed in India or not.


When Charles found out, he telegrammed his mother for help. Neut agreed to pay for Charles to return to France, but swore it would be the last time she'd help him. Her son had proven to many times that he was more trouble than he was worth back in Marseilles.


Charles returned to life in restaurant kitchens, but the work was unbearably grim.


He longed to be one of the patrons in the front of the house, not a grunt in the back.


Desperate to afford this more exclusive lifestyle.


Charles returned to crime, but it didn't turn out the way he wanted. Charles was arrested for car theft and sentenced to six months in prison. When he was released, he asked his mother for financial help once more, but she refused. She meant what she said she was done trying to help her son.


This was a blow to Charles. In less than a year, his father and mother had completely forsaken him.


At least that's how 20 year old Charles saw it.


More than ever, he was on his own.


But Charles chose to look at this abandonment as an opportunity. If he was truly on his own, he could do things his way and he was ready to do whatever it took to survive.


Coming up, Charles Sobhraj commits himself to a life of crime. Hey, podcasters, starting October 1st, we're bringing you the scariest, most hair raising ghost stories ever imagined. Every Thursday on the all new original series, Haunted Places Ghost Stories, Alistar Murden summons a new spine tingling tale of Wraith's phantoms and chilling apparitions. These stories come from all over the world, including Japan, India, the U.K. and even ancient Rome. Don't miss stone cold classics like The Kitbag from Algernon Blackwood, a sinister account of a condemned murderer's final wish and the lengths he go to fulfill it.


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Now back to the story. Passed between his parents across multiple countries, Charles Sobhraj grew up with little stability while his parents made valiant attempts to reform their troubled son after 20 years of dealing with his antics. They'd had enough. Neither wanted to take him in. In fact, it seemed neither wanted him as a son.


In a way, their abandonment was the final push Charles needed to commit himself to a life of crime.


He moved to Paris and doubled down on his delinquency while living in the streets of Paris in 1963. Charles met a fellow Vietnamese criminal will call Lorrel. Over time, Lura became something of a criminal mentor to Charles.


He even taught Charles karate as both a means of survival and philosophy for the next several months. The two pulled off small time robberies to fund their lives on the streets.


Eventually, Lura introduced Charles to a man who forged identity papers for the right price. Charles could buy a Swiss passport, a Dutch student visa or even an American driver's license, whatever he needed. Charles was taken aback as a man without a country or a family. Charles marveled at the prospect of being anyone. All he needed was three thousand francs, and he could make a whole new life for himself. He wanted those papers over the course of six weeks.


Charles rushed to secure the funds, committing at least 11 robberies. But just as he was in sight of his goal, the law caught up with him. He made the mistake of speeding in a stolen car. So when the police pulled him over, he was well and truly sunk in court. Charles pleaded innocent, arguing that his crimes were simply the product of his circumstances. But the courts had no sympathy, and he was sentenced to three years in pussy prison as Pulici Prison housed some of the country's worst criminals.


The lanky young Charles could have been subjected to violence at the hands of the other inmates. But thanks to Luras karate lessons, Charles knew how to defend himself.


And by utilizing his silver tongue, Charles was able to turn his cell into a real home. Prisoners were forbidden from decorating their quarters or keeping any personal items. But Charles Smooth talked his way into acquiring several books.


A prison priest gave Charles volumes of Voltaire, Moliere and various other tomes on philosophy and theology with nothing but free time. Charles devoured everything he could get his hands on, expanding his vocabulary across four languages.


But the priest wasn't the only man Charles used to his advantage. In the fall of 1966, 22 year old Charles trained his eyes on a wealthy Frenchman named Felix, just Konya.


39 year old Descant followed his family's tradition of using his wealth to help the less fortunate. However, unlike Diseconomies family members, he did more than just write checks. He volunteered at the prison, helping inmates with correspondence and legal issues.


For others, like Charles, he just acted as a friendly ear.


Charles shared his family woes and his life story with just Konya after two years in prison. He swore he'd seen the error of his ways. All he wanted now was the love and respect of his father. Yet he feared he'd damage the relationship beyond repair. Charles hoped that just Konya could help him mend that rift, somehow acting as an intermediary between father and son.


Whether Charles was really looking to reconcile with his father is up for debate. He may have simply wanted to curry sympathy. But knowing that this Konya was wealthy, Charles likely saw the Frenchman as someone to con.


Regardless, his tactics worked. He and his Konya became fast friends. They traded letters and spent long hours talking during Tuscany's visits. Just Konya even tried to help Charles reconcile with his parents, but didn't make any headway. Neither of them wish to speak to Charles again.


However, Discon Year one a more important victory. He convinced the French government to recognize Charles as a citizen. For the first time, Charles had a true national identity. Perhaps there was a light at the end of the tunnel.


The summer of 1968 was full of possibility. 24 year old Charles Sobhraj completed his prison sentence, moved in with Félix Toscana and even landed a job as a fire extinguisher salesman.


Around the same time, Charles also found love. He met a young Parisian girl named Shantelle Companion, and they began dating. Shantell was smitten with Charles, his charms and the lavish gifts he gave her. It didn't take her long to fall head over heels in love.


But Chantal's parents. We're much less enthused about the match, Charles just wasn't the type of man they envision for their daughter, and it was possibly because of her parents that Chantelle turned him down when Charles proposed several times. Still, Charles wasn't giving up, hoping to impress the companions. He claimed that he came from a wealthy Vietnamese family.


Of course, Charles had no fortune. He barely had a dime to his name. But the desire to sit in the front of the restaurant never left him. Only now he wanted Shantelle sitting beside him.


And to get there and prove Chantal's parents wrong, he would need to get his hands dirty. It was time to get to work during these dinner parties.


All he could think about was how best to scam these wealthy people.


And before long, a plant formed from memory, Charles drew maps of the different estates he visited. He noted the best entrances and exits, as well as which rooms contained the most valuables. Then he offered to sell the maps to accounts he knew from Huaxi prison. All he charged was 50 percent of the take, plus a finder's fee. It was the perfect plan. His friends took all the risk while he made a handsome profit. But before his scheme got off the ground, Charles's aggressive nature got in the way.


In August of 1968, Charles took Shantelle to a casino in Deauville, about 125 miles west of Paris. But the night of fun soured when Charles lost several thousand francs at the tables on the drive home. He blamed Shantelle for his bad fortune.


Like all manipulators, Machiavellians like Charles refused to take responsibility for their actions. Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner writes, A manipulator avoids responsibilities for his own conduct by blaming others for causing it. It's not that manipulative people don't understand what responsibility is they do. A manipulative person just sees nothing wrong with refusing to take responsibility for their actions.


As Charles drove, he became more and more enraged at the events of the evening. Suddenly, he slammed his foot on the gas pedal, accelerating wildly, the car weaving over the road from a speed.


Terrified at Charles his behavior, Shantelle didn't know what to do. As the car raced through the night, she blurted out that she wanted to get married. She told Charles that she loved him and wanted to spend her life with him.


The gamble worked. Charles looked over at his now fiancee and laughed. He took his foot off the gas, allowing the car to slow down much to Shondells relief.


But at that moment, Charles saw flashing lights in his rearview mirror. Not good. And to make matters worse, he was driving a stolen car.


Instead of pulling over, Charles floored it once more, leading the police on a high speed chase through the dark French countryside. In his panic, Charles lost control of the car. He clipped the side of a fence and crashed in a field.


The police pulled Charles from the mangled wreckage and immediately placed him in handcuffs.


At his trial, both Chantelle and Felix, just Konya, testified on Charles's behalf. And thanks to their testimonies, Charles was sentenced to only eight months in prison for the season criminal. It was over in a heartbeat.


Charles was released in June of 1969 and married Shantelle that October. But even with a new bride and a third prison rap, Charles wasn't willing to confine his life to the straight and narrow path. He continued running schemes with friends from Pussy Prison behind Chantal's back. He pulled a string of robberies and passed around bad checks.


But Charles got a sudden wake up call. In the spring of 1970, Shantelle was pregnant. The revelation sent Charles into something of a panic. If French authorities caught up to him again, what would happen to the baby? Who would take care of it? Would the child be doomed to a life of abandonment like he was?


Still, the development wasn't enough to scare him straight. Instead, he decided it was best that he and Chantelle flee France.


Immediately, he asked Felix Descant if he could borrow and mmHg sports car for a few days, though he had no intention of returning to France.


Charles planned to drive all the way to Saigon and beg his father for help, hoping his baby would help curry sympathy.


But they only made it as far as Bombay, India. By then, Shantelle was eight months pregnant and couldn't continue with the baby coming any day. Charles desperately searched for a way to support his family.


It didn't take him long.


By the time Charles's daughter was born in November of 1970, he was fully involved in a car smuggling scheme.


The origins of the scheme are entirely a mystery. However, what we do know is that while in Bombay, Charles finagled his way into India's upper class. He discovered that while many had a love for European cars, they didn't want to deal with the red tape needed to get those cars into the country. Enter Charles Sobhraj Charles offer to procure the vehicles for clients for a small fee. And to be fair, it was an ingenious scheme. First, he purchased European cars and the Middle Eastern black market.


Then he snuck the cars into India, where he had the vehicles stripped bare by a mechanic. He then reported the vehicle stolen. This allowed him to collect the insurance when the now worthless cars, essentially just shells were discovered. Charles signed them over to the police who entered them into an auction.


Then on the day of the auction, Charles secretly bid on the car in his client's name and bought it back for next to nothing. Then he'd returned to the mechanic who restored all of the stripped parts until it was as good as new.


And now, through the charade of the auction, the client was the legal owner of the vehicle, free and clear of any bureaucratic red tape. For his help, they paid Charles the equivalent of 20000 dollars in today's money.


For the first time, Charles had more than enough money to live on, easily providing for a Shantelle and the new baby, but the extra cash eventually burned a hole in his pocket. He found his way into the casinos in Bombay and what started off as casual fun quickly developed into a full blown addiction.


27 year old Charles spent days at the back or at tables, cycling through winning and losing streaks, chasing his next big payday. When he did well, he showered Chantelle and the baby with expensive gifts. When he lost, he immediately left town to find another car to run through his scheme.


However, by the spring of 1971, Charles's reputation for skipping out on his gambling debts was catching up to him. He decided to take some time away from Bombay.


Charles took Shantelle on vacation to Hong Kong and sent the baby to stay with Shondells parents. For six weeks. They immersed themselves in the Hong Kong high life. They enjoyed themselves so much that in June of that year they made the move permanent.


It seemed like a perfect fit. Unfortunately, Hong Kong was just a ferry ride away from Macao. Macao had casinos and Charles was powerless.


Under his addiction, he racked up a debt close to 50000 dollars. Desperate, he started to pawn off the jewelry. He gifted Shantelle when his fortunes were high, but it still wasn't enough. And the casino officials demanded payment one way or another, feeling the walls closing in on him.


Charles looked for a new con. He needed money to either pay off his debts or at the very least, pay for his escape.


In the summer of 1971, Charles heard about a potential gambit. Another criminal who will call Jérome was planning a jewel heist in Delhi, India. If they pulled it off, the score would cover Charles's debt with the casinos and leave him sitting comfortably for quite a while.


Charles was asked to join the team and without even blinking, he said, yes, he should have said no.


Coming up, Charles graduates from con man to murderer.


Now back to the story.


A 27 year old Charles Sobhraj was nearly 50000 dollars in debt to Macao's casinos. Despite selling off what little he owned, it barely moved the marker. Fortunately, in the summer of 1971, Charles heard about a lucrative jewel heist orchestrated by a con man named Jerome. Charles immediately agreed to help. Their plan was simple. On the first floor of the Ashoka Hotel in Delhi was a jewelry store. The team of thieves would rent a second floor hotel room directly above the shop.


When the store was closed, Charles and the others planned to drill through the store's ceiling, lowered themselves down and empty the cases. Then they would take different routes out of Delhi and regroup in Tehran.


Charles was entrusted with carrying the stolen goods out of the city, but things didn't go as planned.


On October 27th, the night of the heist, the men couldn't drill into the store because the ceiling was made of impenetrable marble. Their drill bits kept breaking before even making a dent.


After three fruitless days, Charles changed the plan. He called the store owner and pretended to be a hotel guest interested in making a purchase and asked to see the merchandise in his room. An hour later, the store owner arrived at the thieves door with a box of his finest gems.


Charles shoved a pistol in the man's face, demanding the keys to the shop. Then his accomplices bound and gagged the store owner and threw him in the bathroom. Meanwhile, Charles hurried down to the jewelry store to collect the booty. 30 minutes later, he returned with a case full of gems and 10000 dollars in cash. Then the men made their escape.


Unfortunately for Charles, he met trouble at the airport while waiting to go through security. He noticed a rush of police scouring the lines and leading the police was the jeweler.


Charles knew he wouldn't be able to explain the bag of jewels on him. So he did the unthinkable. He left the jewels on the floor, stepped out of line and simply walked out of the airport. He'd rather be a man in debt than locked behind bars.


However, Charles, his attempt at avoiding jail time ultimately failed, unable to his thieving ways. He was arrested two weeks later in Bombay for Grand Theft Auto. And while in custody, police connected Charles to the Ashoka Hotel robbery. Fearing that the Indian courts would throw the book at him, Charles was determined to escape before his case went to trial. One afternoon, he suddenly keeled over in his cell, screaming in pain.


He hoped the guards would take him to a hospital where it would be easier to break free.


But Charles got more than he bargained for. The prison doctors diagnosed him with appendicitis and scheduled him for surgery after a pointless appendectomy. Charles remained chained to his hospital bed, still under close guard.


But because he was in a hospital. Charles, his wife Chantelle, was allowed to visit, upon which he pressed her to help him escape. The next time she came to see him, Shantelle brought a vial of chloroform and slipped some into the guard's tea.


Once the guard was fast asleep, Shantell stole the keys to the handcuffs and unshackled her husband. Then she took his place in the hospital bed to avoid detection as long as possible, giving Charles a head start to freedom.


When Shantelle was discovered in Charles's bed, she was immediately arrested for aiding his escape. Luckily for her, she convinced a friend to pay her bail. Once free, she reunited with Charles and the two fled India.


While Shantelle had proven her loyalty to her husband the following months in 1972 were unbearably hard. The couple was constantly on the move to make ends meet. Charles pulled cons throughout Rome, Copenhagen, Paris, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the summer of that year.


Charles and Chantelle traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, where Charles was arrested and thrown into prison. Sources differ as to why he was arrested. Some say it was for car theft, while others claim it was for an unpaid hotel bill.


Regardless, Charles knew that he couldn't stay locked up for long. His wife was waiting for him on the other side. So Charles faked an illness by drinking a glass of his own blood once he was taken to the hospital for a suspected ulcer. Charles drugged a guard, broke out of his shackles and walked out of the front door.


From there, he and Shantelle escaped Afghanistan and were back on the run.


Later that fall, Charles and Shantelle finally reunited with their baby girl. But the moment was bittersweet. Shantell had missed so much of her daughter's life while running from the law with her husband. And the price of fast money and fleeting thrills was nothing compared to the joys of motherhood.


So Shantelle filed for divorce and returned to France to raise the baby with her parents and just like his parents did before her. She vowed never to see Charles Sobhraj again.


Charles seemed to take Chantal's parting in stride. In the end, she was just another person in his life who abandoned him. It hardened his resolve that people weren't people, they were markes. With Shantell gone, however, he needed a new partner for his schemes. And in the summer of 1973, he reached out to the first person he'd ever managed to manipulate his younger half brother, Andre.


Over the years, Charles and Andre had maintained correspondence. So when Charles asked Andre to come to Istanbul with him, Andre didn't hesitate.


Just as in childhood, Charles groomed Andre to be his new partner in crime. While Shantelle had been taken in by Charles's charms and affection. Andre was captivated by his older brother's seemingly endless wisdom.


Charles spouted tenets of philosophy, dialogue and psychology nicha young Voltaire.


He explained how all this studying taught him how to read people. In fact, Charles spent a great deal of time reading Andre himself. He needed to know if he could trust his little brother.


Dr. Dale Hartley, a professor of social psychology at the University of West Virginia, identified several tactics that Machiavellians use for manipulation. These include charm, friendliness, self disclosure, guilt and, if necessary, pressure. Charles, is self disclosure worked seamlessly. Andre was intoxicated by his intelligent brother when Charles finally asked if he would swear loyalty to him, Andre, of course, said yes.


From there, Charles taught Andre the ins and outs of life as a con man. One of their greatest assets was that both men could easily pass as locals throughout the Middle East and Asia. Throughout 1973, Charles and Andre roamed around Greece and Turkey, pretending to be helpful locals while they robbed tourists.


While in Athens, Charles and Andre spotted a wealthy Egyptian and conned him out of a few thousand francs.


A few weeks later, Charles and Andre decided to try their luck in Beirut. But as Charles and Andre rode a bus out of Athens, they were spotted by the Egyptian man. He called the police. The bus was surrounded, and Charles and Andre found themselves locked behind bars.


In the years that Charles had made his living as a thief, he'd studied various countries penal codes. While Charles languished in the Athens jail, he learned that he'd also been connected to a string of robberies in Istanbul, and he knew that ending up in a Turkish prison was far worse than staying in a Greek one.


So for now, he was content to stay put. It gave him time to work out how to escape prison in Greece before he could be extradited to Turkey. Luckily, with only the Egyptian man's word against them, the police were forced to conduct a more thorough investigation.


In the meantime, Charles devised a plan to get them out of lockup. He realized that the prison guards had no idea that they were brothers, just a couple of Southeast Asian looking men in Greece.


What's more, Andre didn't have an extensive criminal record like Charles, so he would probably receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Knowing this, Charles convinced his brother that they should see. Which identities, once Charles was free, Andre could reveal to the warden that they had released the wrong man. He was the real Andre. This, he promised, would ensure Andre's immediate release.


But months passed and Andre wasn't released as they expected, so impatient, Charles decided to go back to the well.


He faked an illness as he waited for the prison van to take him to the hospital. Charles Pick pocketed a bottle of perfume from an elderly woman sitting beside him. When the time was right, he lit the bottle on fire and threw it into a crowd of people like a Molotov cocktail. During the chaos, Charles slipped away.


When Andre learned of Charles's escape, he told the warden that he was the real Andre Charles. Sobhraj was the one who escaped, but the Greeks didn't buy it. Instead, they handed Andre over to the Turks and he was sentenced to 18 years of hard labor. But not for one second did Charles feel any remorse for leaving his brother behind.


He didn't have time. He was busy escaping Greece. Afterwards, Charles made his way east along the hippie trail. And this was the road that Western tourists took between Bangkok, Thailand, and Istanbul, Turkey.


During this period, Charles perfected a simple yet effective con against unassuming travelers. He posed as a local gem dealer and offered to act as a guide for them.


Then, once they were either drugged or asleep from drinking too much alcohol, he robbed them of their money and identities.


But Charles always had his eyes on the lookout for bigger and better scores. And sometime around the summer of 1975, Charles was in the midst of negotiating the lease of a building in Thailand. The plan was to convert the building into a legitimate gem business that would catapult him into a life of luxury.


Unfortunately, Charles needed to have twenty five thousand dollars by January 1st, 1976, or the deal would fall through.


As Charles pondered what crimes could raise the capital, it became clear that he didn't have time for a long con. He needed to strike fast and strike often. And unlike in Greece, he couldn't leave behind any witnesses to turn him in. He needed to kill.


Thanks again for tuning into serial killers will be back soon with Part two of Charles Sobhraj story. While the con man made a name for himself slithering out of prisons, he would soon leave a trail of bodies all over Southeast Asia that earned him the moniker the bikini killer.


For more information on Charles Sobhraj, among the many sources we used, we found 17 by Thomas Thompson. Extremely helpful to our research.


You can find all episodes of Serial Killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify.


Will see you next time. Have a killer week.


Serial Killers was created by Max Cuddler and is a podcast studio's original. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cuddler Sound Design by Mike Ramos with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Freddy Buckley. This episode of Serial Killers was written by Joe Gerra with writing assistants by Joel Kaplan and stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson. If you're ready to get into the spooky spirit of the season, remember to follow haunted places ghost stories every Thursday, Alistar Murden brings a new, surprising, chilling, spine tingling story to life, follow haunted places, ghost stories free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.