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Attempted murder case: Popular New Zealand TikTok influencer Darren Maheno arrested in US – New Zealand Herald

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Former Invercargill resident Darren Maheno, who had a large following on TikTok before vanishing from the platform, has been charged with attempted murder in California. Photo / TikTok
A prolific TikTok user from Invercargill who racked up millions of views on his humorous videos before vanishing from the social media platform has been arrested in the United States, charged with attempted murder.
The Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed to the Herald that Darren John Maheno, 45, has been in custody for the past two weeks.
Officers were called to an address in Woodland Hills, a northwestern suburb in the Los Angeles metro area, for an alleged domestic violence incident around 4.15am on September 6.
During an arraignment hearing two days later, Maheno pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, domestic violence and illegal threats.
He’s remained incarcerated since his arrest, with his bail set at US$1.03m (NZ$1.75m).
Attempted murder carries a maximum punishment in California of life in prison with the possibility of parole if it is found to be willful, deliberate and premeditated. It is punishable by up to nine years’ prison if not found to be wilful, deliberate or premeditated.
Maheno had more than 165,000 followers on TikTok and his videos had racked up 2.8 million likes before he deactivated his account last year.
His arrest has been widely rumoured on TikTok in recent days, but with many posts incorrectly stating he was charged with murder.
A mutual friend of Maheno and his partner shared blurred photos of Maheno’s partner in a hospital bed and snippets of a Messenger exchange with the woman. She gave him permission to publish the screenshots on social media to combat misinformation about the case.
“God help him,” the woman said of Maheno, expressing fear that he will get hurt in prison. “I’ve tried to love him. He suffers from madness.”
The woman, who is said to now be at home and recovering, did not respond to a request from the Herald to speak with her. The mutual friend also declined to comment to the Herald out of respect for both of his friends and for Maheno’s family.
“She was literally beaten to a pulp by Darren,” he alleged on TikTok after speaking with the partner. “He’s in a lot of trouble.”
Another person who said she spoke to Maheno’s partner after the alleged attack told the Herald the woman has suffered memory loss and is struggling to recount the last year. The partner would like to see him sent back to New Zealand so he is no longer “her problem to worry about”, said the friend, who asked not to be identified by name.
Maheno’s TikTok content often consisted of humorous and absurd moments, such as hanging from a rafter by his feet like a bat, pretending to be an evil German inventor and reciting the Lord’s prayer in Italian while dressed as a priest.
In February last year, his antics were featured in a remix by Auckland producer Jawash 685, famous for hit song Savage Love with Jason Derulo.
But by that time Maheno’s interest in the social media platform seemed to be waning.
“This is freaky. TikTok is giving me anxiety,” he said in a downbeat January 2021 post as he reviewed viewer comments. “I’m a f***ing ticking bomb – tick, tick, tick, tick.”
Maheno has had a low profile on social media since leaving TikTok, but he posted a public tribute to his partner on Facebook in May.
“I cannot thank you enough for the way you love me. Miracles happen everyday and you are the miracle in my life,” he wrote.
“Thank you for being my best friend my lover my life, my someone I trust. Your honesty integrity and faithfulness are like that of a fortress I love it I love you.”
Maheno was set to appear at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Van Nuys early this morning for a preliminary hearing in which a prosecutor was expected to give a brief outline of the case against him. His next court appearance is set for October 27.
It’s not his first run-in with the law. He was sentenced to community work and intensive supervision for assault on a female and possession of a wooden pole, which was deemed to be an offensive weapon, the Southland Times reported in 2013. He was also sentenced to supervision several years earlier for possessing an axe and an aluminium telescope pole, also deemed to be offensive weapons, Stuff reports.
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