The Serpent True Story: What Happened To Every Major Player (Screen Rant)

The Serpent fictionalizes the true-crime drama of serial killer Charles Sobhraj. Here’s what happened to the real-life characters after the series.

Netflix’s latest crime drama, The Serpent jumps back and forth in time with the majority of the drama unfolding during the ’70s, but what happened to the real-life characters depicted in the series after the fictional story ends? The Serpent focuses on the people who became both friends and victims of the notorious jewel thief and serial killer, Charles Sobhraj (terrifyingly portrayed by The Mauritanian star, Tahar Rahim) who terrorized Southeast Asia during the 1970s.

In The Serpent, Charles Sobhraj and his long-time girlfriend, Marie Andrée-Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) use their assumed identities as the gem-dealing married couple, Alain and Monique, to con young backpackers and wayward travelers by promising them adventure and free housing at their home in Bangkok. With the help of Sobhraj’s right-hand man, Ajay Chowdhury (Amesh Edireweera), the couple lures victims to their apartment at Kanit House where they drug them and steal their belongings along with their identities. The Netflix series tells the terrifying true story of Sobhraj’s horrific killing spree on the Hippie Trail, which included dozens of victims across Thailand, Nepal, and India.

The series begins with Sobhraj’s first known murder in 1975, and the months that follow as Dutch diplomat, Herman Knippenberg starts to investigate the disappearance of two backpackers from Holland. Knippenberg soon realizes he has discovered Sobhraj’s latest victims. With the assistance of his wife and a few helpful, heroic neighbors, Herman Knippenberg eventually builds a case against Sobhraj. By the end of the final episode, the serial killer has slithered his way out of prison by either escaping or evading arrest multiple times – hence “The Serpent” nickname. As the series portrays, Sobhraj’s eventual downfall comes in 2003 in Nepal where he is arrested for the final time – but that’s not the end of the story. Here’s what happened to all the real-life major players from The Serpent after the series ends.

What Happened to Herman Knippenberg

Image via BBC

After leaving Thailand in 1977, Herman Knippenberg served as a diplomat in nations around the world until he retired in 2003. Near the end of Netflix’s latest true-crime series, Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle), is shunned by his supervisor, Ambassador van Dongen, for pursuing the investigation into Sobhraj despite the Ambassador having ordered him to leave it to the police. But, just like in the series, it’s Knippenberg’s research into Sobhraj that is later used to convict him. Now 76 years old, Herman Knippenberg lives in Wellington with his second wife, Vanessa. Knippenberg served as a consultant for the series based on his real-life investigations.

What Happened to Angela Knippenberg

Image via BBC

By the end of The Serpent, it’s clear that Angela (Ellie Bamber) and Herman Knippenberg are having some marital troubles as the latter’s obsession with catching the “Bikini Killer” Charles Sobhraj has consumed their lives. In reality, the couple got divorced in 1989 and they are both now remarried. After leaving Thailand, Angela later served as the Under-Secretary-General for Management in the United Nations until she retired in 2015.

What Happened to Nadine and Remi Gires

Image via BBC

The everyday hero of the story, Nadine Gires (Mathilde Warnier) and her husband, Remi Gires (Grégoire Isvarine), a French sous chef, helped Herman Knippenberg with his investigations and later aided in Dominique Renelleau’s escape from Sobhraj. In The Serpent, the couple leaves Bangkok in the 1970s before Sobhraj is arrested. Although they have since gotten divorced, both Nadine and Remi later returned to live and work in Thailand where they remain today. No longer a housewife, Nadine now runs her own business there. Nadine has recently spoken out about the time she spent spying on the serial killer next door, including helping actress Mathilde Warnier prepare for her role. In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Gires admits that – like so many of Sobhraj’s victims – at first she was fooled by his charm, having been excited about meeting a fellow French native in Thailand. But not her husband, Remi. Apparently, the sous chef had a bad feeling about Sobhaj from the beginning.

What happened to Dominique Renelleau

Image via BBC

One of the few surviving victims of Sobhraj’s killing spree, Dominque Renelleau (Fabien Frankel) returned to France after Nadine and Remi Gires helped him escape from Thailand. In real life, the couple helped Renelleau by lending him the money he needed to get home. He is now married with two grown-up children and lives in a seaside town in western France where, according to an interview with The Sun, Renelleau enjoys billiards and spending time with his family.

What Happened to Ajay Chowdhury

Image via BBC

At the end of The Serpent, the fate of Ajay Chowdhury remains unknown after Sobhraj abandons him in the middle of nowhere. And in real life, what actually happened to Chowdhury remains a mystery to this day. Aside from the alleged sighting in Germany in 1976, no one has seen or heard from Chowdhury since. However, his last known whereabouts were in Malaysia with Sobhraj, which indicates that Sobhraj may have killed his partner in order to evade arrest. But, if that’s the case, Chowdhury’s remains have never been found.

What Happened to Marie-Andrée Leclerc

Image via BBC

Like Sobhraj, Marie-Andrée Leclerc was found guilty of the murder of Avoni Jacob in 1980. But Leclerc appealed the decision and was subsequently released under the condition that she wouldn’t leave India. Later, Leclerc did become ill in real life, but unlike in the show, it wasn’t until after she was released from prison. In 1983, Leclerc was allowed to return to Canada as her condition worsened. In The Serpent, Leclerc is involved in the robbing and poisoning of Sobhraj’s victims, but the series implies that she may not have known about the murders—or at least the extent of Sobhraj’s crimes—and it documents Sobhraj’s physical and verbal abuse of Leclerc. In reality, how much Leclerc truly knew about Sobhraj’s real-life crimes, and whether or not she was involved in the murders, remains unclear. Before she died of ovarian cancer in 1984, Leclerc wrote a French tell-all, Je Reviens (I Will Return), giving her side of the story. In the book, Leclerc claims that she never liked Sobhraj and characterizes herself as just another victim of the criminal mastermind.

What Happened to Charles Sobhraj

Image via BBC

As the show documents, Charles Sobhraj was finally convicted of the 1975 murder of Connie Jo Broznich and sentenced to life in prison in 2004. But the series leaves out many details about what happened between Sobhraj’s arrest in Nepal and his escape from prison in India. During this time, Sobhraj enjoyed a celebrity lifestyle in France, where he charged journalists for photographs and interviews, like the one depicted in The Serpent, as well as millions of dollars for the rights to a movie based on his life. For an imprisoned man, Sobhraj has been keeping busy since his last arrest. In 2008, Sobhraj made headlines again when, at 64, he got married to a Nepali citizen he met while incarcerated. In 2013, prosecutors reopened their case against Sophraj, this time for the murder of Connie Jo’s partner, Laurent Carrière. He was found guilty and sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison. Sobhraj is currently serving out his consecutive sentences in Kathmandu. Having undergone multiple open-heart surgeries in the last few years, he is not in good health.

Must Read