The Serpent and Herman Knippenberg

Cee Arr
5 min readApr 13, 2021

(Warning: this post discusses the details of a real-life crime, as such it contains details of murder, drugging, and a serial killer)

I recently finished watching the eight-part BBC series The Serpent.

(I think in the US it’s on Netflix? Not sure.)

Starring Jenna Coleman, Billy Howle, and Tahar Rahim, The Serpent is a drama based on the real story of a serial killer preying on tourists in a variety of countries along the Asian hippie-trail during the 1970s.

It’s an excellent series, even though it’s not exactly easy viewing.

‘The Serpent and Herman Knippenberg’ against a green diamond-patterned background
Image: author’s own, made in Canva

This post is gonna have a few SPOILERS for The Serpent series, OK?


Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Charles Sobhraj is a conman, thief, and serial killer, who lived in Bangkok, amongst other places, in the 1970s.

Charles Sobhraj was known as The Serpent, as well as The Bikini Killer and The Splitting Killer.

He would drug and rob backpackers and tourists, mostly young Westerners, murdering a number of them.

His kill count is at least 12 people. His total number of victims is unknown.

One of the most terrifying things about it though?

No-one seemed to give a sh** that these kids were going missing and/or being found dead.

It took a minor Dutch diplomat named Herman Knippenberg -

a pencil-pusher, essentially, as the series points out, a self-admitted ‘underling’ as he described himself in an interview with ITV’s Loose Women ( which you can see on YouTube here)

- who wouldn’t give up.

And by ‘he wouldn’t give up’ I mean He. Wouldn’t. Give. Up.

He was told, repeatedly, to leave it.

He was told by his boss to leave it.

He reported everything to the police -

Cee Arr

Writer, reader, poet, (book) blogger @ , Queer, weird, bookish rebel. Welsh as a tractor on the M4. She/Her. Buy me a coffee @