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I've been one step ahead of you since you raided the warehouse. Every time I grabbed another target, I thought about you. And when they were screaming for mercy, I had a little laugh at your expense. Like I'm having a little laugh right now, because you think you've won.
~ Kern taunting Detective John Munch.

Darryl Kern is the main antagonist of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Manhunt". He is a serial killer and rapist who leads Detectives John Munch and Fin Tutuola on a cross-country chase as they try to apprehend him and save his latest victim.

He is portrayed by R.E. Rodgers, who also portrayed James Robson in Oz.


Kern joined the U.S. Army, believing its sole purpose was to kill people. He was put in the brig after he tortured and killed a squirrel his fellow soldiers were fond of, resulting in a brawl. He was given a psychiatric discharge after being diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

After this, Kern befriended Marvin Posey, with Kern being the dominant leader of the duo over the weak, submissive Posey. Kern and Posey went on a murder spree in New York, kidnapping, raping, and murdering a number of people, whom they held captive in a garage. When Kern left Posey to watch a victim while he went to his job, the woman escaped and led the police to the garage. By the time they arrived, Kern and Posey escaped. Sometime later, Kern murdered a companion who owned a farm near the Canadian border. He and Posey took over the farm and built a military bunker for "the upcoming racial war". Kern's journal later revealed plans to survive there and create a new generation of people by impregnating female sex slaves, whom they would kidnap and hold captive in the bunker.


Kern kidnaps a woman right off the street, and has Posey pretend to be a passerby trying to save her in order to give him time to get away and to lead the police on a wild goose chase. Sure enough, Posey deliberately identifies the wrong person to buy Kern more time.

After discovering Kern and Posey's ruse, Detectives Munch and Tutuola hunt them all the way from New York City up to their hideout in Canada. Kern blames Posey for the police finding them, and brutally murders him before taking off from the farm with two hostages, a mother and her daughter, and crossing the border into Canada. When Munch and Fin find the farm, they also find several bodies buried around the property, including that of Kern's latest victim. Kern would later boast that there was even more victims than the ones the police found.

Finally, the Canadian police arrest Kern for shoplifting in a supermarket, with the hostages found alive and physically unharmed in his stolen vehicle. Munch interviews Kern, who gloats about being a step in front of the police for over a year, taunts Munch for not being able to catch him back in New York, and laughs at his victims' screams of pain. When Munch tells Kern he will be executed for what he has done, Kern arrogantly replies that Canada, which outlawed capital punishment, will not extradite anyone on capital offenses unless the death penalty is waived.

ADA Alex Cabot comes to Munch's aid. At the extradition hearing, she claims that the state of New York will try Kern for a car theft he confessed to during his interview with Munch. Despite Kern's defense attorney's attempt to contest the extradition, the judge grants the extradition without hesitation. Later, Kern is brought back to a New York state facility, where Munch greets him with, "Welcome home, Darryl". Darryl is later executed for the murders.

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