The FBI searches the home of Stephen Beal in Long Beach, Calif., Sunday, March 3, 2019, after taking him into custody in connection with a 2018 bombing at an Aliso Viejo beauty salon that killed his former girlfriend. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

FBI links bomb items to California suspect's home, car

March 04, 2019 - 1:29 pm

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — A California man was arrested in a spa explosion that killed is ex-girlfriend last year after materials similar to those used in the bomb were found in his home and car, federal authorities said Monday.

Stephen Beal, 59, was arrested on suspicion of malicious destruction of a building that included a death. The charge carries a possible life sentence.

Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, was killed and two female clients were seriously injured on May 15 when she opened a box that erupted in a fiery explosion at the spa in the city of Aliso Viejo, about 50 miles (81 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, investigators said.

Beal's lawyer declined to comment.

The blast blew out a big hunk of the building and authorities who first arrived thought they were dealing with a car bombing or gas main rupture, said Paul Delacort, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office.

The FBI busted down Beal's front and garage doors to search his home in Long Beach after the explosion and he was taken into custody.

Beal, 59, was arrested at the time on suspicion of possessing explosives but was released after prosecutors dropped the charge, saying they had questions about whether material found in Beal's house met the legal definition of a "destructive device."

At the time, investigators said they found two improvised explosive devices, three firearms and more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of explosive material during a search that Beal allowed of his house.

Beal, a model-rocket hobbyist, told investigators he had not made any bombs and did not have material for an explosion as powerful as the one he saw in news coverage.

Federal authorities now allege that a battery, wire and chemicals used in the bomb were similar to those Beal had purchased or were in his home and car.

Steve Young, a friend and neighbor of Beal's, said he does not think Beal is capable of harming anyone.

"I don't feel that he's the type of person that would do this sort of thing," he said. "If they came and arrested him they obviously feel they have something that would tie him to the initial explosion, but I'm a big believer in our court system, and that's where it has to play out."

Young said he has talked to Beal about the explosion.

"Basically I made a comment to him that based on his relationship with the explosion victim, it was obvious why he would be a person of interest, and he agreed and said that he understood," Young said.

Beal told investigators that he and Krajnyak had recently split up over issues of exclusivity and finances, according to an affidavit filed in court by an FBI agent. The two remained business partners.

Krajnyak, a mother and licensed cosmetologist, had just returned to California after visiting family in her native Hungary when she was killed.


Amanda Lee Myers and Brian Melley in Los Angeles and Michael Balsamo Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

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