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SVU, Episode 2.18
Production number: E1431
First aired: 20 April 2001
  th of 366 produced in SVU  
th of 366 released in SVU
  th of 1106 released in all  
Stabler Benson Cragen Cabot Manhunt
Written By
Jeff Eckerle

Directed By
Steve Wertimer

The details of a kidnapping are similar to a series of rapes and murders, which leads Detectives Munch and Tutuola to a serial killer

Plot Edit

The details of a kidnapping are similar to a series of rapes and murders that may link the crime to a serial killer. In the end, the killer is caught in Canada, but there is a problem in extraditing him. He is finally extradited and faces either spending the rest of his life in a U.S. prison or execution for his heinous crimes.

Summary Edit

After another evening work shift, diner waitress Annie Tassler and cook Butch McGee talk briefly on the sidewalk before parting ways to go home. Moments later McGee hears muffled screaming, and looks back to see a man forcing Tassler into a green 4x4. McGee runs up to them, but is forced to back off when the man points a gun in his face. When the man turns his attention back to Tassler, McGee grabs him and is joined by a bystander named Marty Potter. The man knocks both of them aside, jumps into the vehicle and speeds off with Tassler.

Munch and Fin are called to the scene because the kidnapper dropped a chloroform-soaked cloth, the mark of the Bowery Stalker. The previous summer he kidnapped four women and drove away with them in a green 4x4. He raped, tortured and killed them in an abandoned warehouse in the city. The police raided the place and found the women's mutilated bodies after another victim, Sarah Kimmel, managed to escape from the warehouse after two days in captivity. They found partial fingerprints and some DNA, but couldn't match any of it to anyone in the system. The Stalker never returned there afterward, and SVU hadn't seen him again until now. He must have found a new safe house.

When the gun was in his face, McGee saw a cat-shaped tattoo on the kidnapper's forearm. A parolee named Frank Taggart, who was convicted of assault, has that tattoo. He tells Munch and Fin where he had it done, and says he was at a bar when Tassler was kidnapped. Although Taggart left the bar in plenty of time to reach the scene, he doesn't own a 4x4. So Cragen has all the witnesses, including Sarah Kimmel, brought in for a line-up.

Since her ordeal, Kimmel has been living on disability because she's too traumatized to leave home without falling apart. She keeps the lights on all the time, because in the darkness she'd see her tormentor's face again.

At the line-up, McGee can't positively identify anyone. Potter identifies NYPD Officer Peters. Kimmel says her attacker isn't in the line-up. Taggart's not their man.

Munch and Fin visit the tattoo shop that did Taggart's cat tattoo. The design was an original, brought in by another customer the previous summer. That customer said the cat was a platoon name in the service. He left the sketch behind, and the tattoo artist lets the detectives have it.

The lab finds two sets of fingerprints on the paper, one belonging to the tattoo artist and the other to a "John Doe." The technician checked Doe's prints against other databases and identified Doe as Darryl Kern, a U.S. Army veteran. Kern was dishonorably discharged the previous year, at about the time the Stalker's attacks began. Motor Vehicle records show that he owns a green 4x4, and provide a home address.

The police raid Kern's apartment. He's not there, but they find a Fort Dix military banner with a bobcat mascot, and his New York toll road E-Z Pass statements. The statements show road trips beginning at the same time as the Stalker's attacks. Kern traveled the same route each time, from the city to the small town of Walden Falls in upstate New York. Seven women went missing within a day of each trip.

Munch and Fin make the long drive to Walden Falls. Local police chief Walker has never heard of Kern, so if he's there he's keeping a low profile. Officer Cheryl Baxter is assigned to help the detectives with their investigation. They begin with a visit to the local gas station, a regular stop on Kern's previous trips. The station owner recognizes Kern, and says that he spent a lot of time at the local gun shop.

The gun shop owner identifies Kern as Arnold Cokely. He tells Munch and Fin that "Cokely" has a cabin somewhere north of town, well-stocked with provisions, guns and ammo. In fact, the real Arnold Cokely and his wife Amanda went missing in the city five months ago. Since Cokely's identification was used in a fraudulent firearms transaction, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) joins the case.

Meanwhile, back in the city SVU goes through Kern's possessions and finds blueprints for a bomb shelter drawn by a contractor in Walden Falls. Munch asks Officer Baxter to have the contractor, McCartney, meet them at the police station. They arrive to find Chief Walker locking horns with ATF agent Gus Stone, arguing over who's in charge of going after Kern. Stone has a federal warrant for Kern's arrest. McCartney confirms he built a fortified underground bunker for Kern on some land about 10 miles north of town. The land already had a small cabin on it.

The combined law enforcement forces raid Kern's cabin, and find it empty. Somebody must have tipped him off. Annie Tassler's mutilated body is in the bunker, and several other bodies are buried on the property. In the cabin is a pseudo-military operations manual of some sort, apparently forgotten by Kern in his haste to clear out. His last entry, dated the previous day, indicates he has an accomplice whom he's meeting back in the city.

On the theory that Kern's accomplice is an Army buddy, Cragen arranges for Munch and Fin to visit Fort Dix. Colonel Marsden tells them that Kern had been a problem soldier who was under the delusion that the Army enjoyed killing. He spent so much time on kitchen duty, he was assigned there permanently. After he threatened someone with a kitchen knife, he was put in the brig. He was eventually diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and pronounced unfit for duty, resulting in his discharge. Kern had had one friend at Fort Dix, a man who made regular deliveries to the fort's mess hall. That man no longer delivers there, but Sergeant Pierre remembers the name of the company.

The company owner identifies Kern's friend as Marvin Posey, who's currently out on National Guard reserve duty. He gives the detectives Posey's home address, but adds that Posey isn't there because he's in the wilderness practicing survival skills. Munch, Fin and a SWAT team go to Posey's house, where his elderly Aunt Mary readily answers the door. She tells them he'd been called away from home that morning.

Aunt Mary, who's as overly trusting as she is kindhearted, assumes that Munch and Fin are friends of Posey's and invites them inside. She tells them her nephew is with the Green Berets, and shows them his scrapbook. In the book is a photo of Posey with Darryl Kern. Marvin Posey is Marty Potter, the good Samaritan at the Tassler kidnapping. Posey hadn't been trying to stop Kern; he'd been trying to get into the vehicle. No wonder he identified the wrong person in the line-up. And he must have tipped off Kern about the police.

As Munch and Fin leave Posey's home, they receive word that Kern abandoned his 4x4 that morning in a shopping center outside Walden Falls. He carjacked a woman and child, and is now heading north toward Canada in their car.

Back at SVU, the detectives determine that Kern and Posey have been exchanging cell phone calls at regular intervals since Tassler's kidnapping. The cell service provider determines that Posey eventually met up with Kern in Fisher's Landing, just inside the U.S. border. Munch and Fin join the New York state police and ATF in Fisher's Landing, where the carjacked vehicle and Posey's car were found parked in the driveway of a farmhouse. They raid the farm to find Posey dead, and the farmer's truck gone. Then they receive good news: Kern was arrested for shoplifting from an auto parts store in Ontario, after the farmer's truck broke down. The woman and child are safe, and the Ontario Provincial Police are holding Kern until Munch and Fin get there.

Alex Cabot greets the detectives at the OPP station where Kern is being held. She has an extradition warrant for Kern, which of course he's fighting. Because a confession from Kern would strengthen New York's argument at the extradition hearing, Munch talks to Kern alone and tries to get one. Kern just laughs, because Canada won't extradite him for a capital crime unless New York waives the death penalty. Cabot confirms that's true, as of a Canadian Supreme Court decision the previous year.

At the extradition hearing Canadian prosecutor Picard argues against extraditing Kern, based on the Canadian Supreme Court's unanimous decision regarding people facing death penalty charges. Cabot replies that the State of New York has amended its petition for extradition. The original petition sought to extradite Kern for murder with special circumstances attached and kidnapping, the former carrying the death penalty in New York. The amended petition reflects only one, lesser offense: possession of stolen property, the farmer's truck which Kern drove into Canada. Possession of stolen property valued at more than $5,000 is an extraditable offense under Canadian law. Picard argues that this is a false claim and that the SVU detectives will arrest Kern on the capital charges (and possibly seek the death penalty) the moment he sets foot on American soil, but the Canadian judge - despite acknowledging this - grants the extradition.

After a shocked and disillusioned Kern is returned to New York and is indeed arrested for his capital crimes (with Munch sarcastically saying "Welcome Home" to Kern as he is handcuffed), Munch visits Sarah Kimmel. When she answers the door, he says, "I just wanted to tell you. You can turn your lights out tonight."

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Walden Falls

Quotes Edit

"Eight months of the cold shoulder, now I can't shut you up."

- John Munch

(to a serial rapist and murderer known as the Bowery Stalker):

"Shoplifting. Kind of an undignified end to such an ambitious operation."

- John Munch

"Two words: Aqua Velva."

- John Munch

"You had us stumped for over a year, Daryl. Your operations manual reads like a textbook in tactics and resource management. I've offered it to the curriculum committee at the Academy. I think the next generation of cops could learn a lot from you."

- John Munch

"Even Aunt Mary thinks he's a hero."
"Yeah, well Aunt Mary is a few tea bags shy of a full pot."

- Odafin Tutuola and John Munch

"The Supreme Court was unequivocal in its 9-0 ruling under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the Canadian Constitution concerning the matter of extradition on capital offenses."
"Mr Picard, aren't you concerned that Canada might become a safe haven for criminals seeking to use our constitution as a shield from prosecution?"
"I prefer not to speculate on a hypothetical situation - which may or may not result from the high court's ruling."

- Picard and Canadian Judge

"This is a cynical ploy! We all know that, once Mr. Kern crosses the border, he will be charged with a capital crime..."
"Perhaps, Mr. Picard - but this court prefers not to speculate on a hypothetical situation...which may or may not result from its ruling."

- Picard and Canadian Judge

Background information and notes Edit

  • This episode appears to be based on the crimes committed by serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. These two men captured, tortured, raped and murdered numerous women, and even killed entire families to steal their IDs, money, and cars. Ng met Lake in the military and the pair are suspected of murdering up to 25 people at Lake's ranch in Calaveras County, California. They filmed themselves raping and torturing their victims. The crimes came to light in 1985 when Lake committed suicide with cyanide pills, after being arrested for a firearms offense. He left a confession/suicide note, and police searched his ranch and found human remains. Charles Ng was identified as Lake's partner in the crimes. Ng fled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he was arrested by the Calgary Police Service on 6 July 1985. He is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. (Source: Charles Ng at Wikipedia)
  • This is the first episode that focuses on Detectives John Munch and Odafin Tutuola rather than on Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3

Forensic Investigations
Jamaica, Queens
Friday, April 6

Blackbird Motor Lodge
Walden Falls, New York
Monday, April 9

Special Victims Unit
Wednesday, April 11

4 5 6

Magoo's Vending Company
Gowanus, Brooklyn
Wednesday, April 11

Ontario Provincial
Police Detachment
Thursday, April 12

Ontario Superior
Court of Justice
Friday, April 13

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Season 2
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