The Long Beach man arrested in connection with last year’s fatal bombing at an Aliso Viejo day spa that killed his ex-girlfriend had threatened the woman after she admitted being in a relationship with another man, federal authorities said Monday.
Federal officials also said pieces of wire found at the bombing scene matched wire discovered during a search of Stephen Beal’s home. They also said that about one week before the explosion, Beal, 59, was seen on surveillance video purchasing the type of battery used in the explosive device.
Beal also allegedly purchased three cardboard boxes similar to the one that contained the bomb that went off May 15, 2018, at 11 Mareblu and killed 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak. Beal, who co-owned the spa with Krajnyak, was also one of few people to have access to the business and was seen at the spa days before the blast, federal authorities said.
“We found no evidence of an ideological motivation” for the bombing, said Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
FBI officials said last year Krajnyak was killed when she opened a cardboard box near the front desk of the Magyar Kozmetica day spa, triggering the explosive device inside. Two other women inside the business were seriously injured.
Beal, who was arrested Sunday at an ATM near his home, made an initial court appearance Monday afternoon when he was ordered held without bail. His arrest came as FBI agents swarmed his home. The search was continuing Monday.
Irene White, a friend of the Krajnyak family, said after the hearing that the victim’s relatives were “pleased” with the re-arrest of Beal nine months after he was initially taken into custody.
“We continue to grieve,” White said of Krajnyak’s death.
Referring to two patrons injured in the blast, White added, “Two women are permanently impaired” with hearing and visual injuries.
“A conviction will clearly not undo these tragic events,” White said. “But it will serve justice.”
Beal had been arrested the day after the explosion. At the time, investigators reported finding two improvised explosive devices, three unregistered firearms and more than 100 pounds of explosive material during a search of his house. He told investigators at the time that he and Krajnyak had split up in part over finances, according to a court affidavit.
Beal called sheriff’s deputies on the day of the explosion reporting that he was one of the owners, according to an FBI affidavit in the case.
“He also stated Krajnyak was his friend and `ex-wife,’ and provided his phone number,” according to the FBI. When agents went to the defendant’s home he consented to a search, the FBI said.
Beal met with investigators three times, including once “without prompting” when he drove to the offices of sheriff’s deputies in Aliso Viejo, according to the FBI.
“Beal stated his romantic relationship with Krajnyak `cooled’ in early 2018,” according to the FBI. “Beal stated he took a trip with Krajnyak to Portugal during which Krajnyak admitted to Beal that she was in an intimate relationship with another man from Northern California. Beal stated he was hurt and betrayed when Krajnyak told him this.”
They took that trip in March of last year, according to the FBI.
Beal denied having anything to do with the bombing, but he said that as a “co-signer on the lease, he is `screwed financially’ and will likely have to declare bankruptcy,” according to the FBI.
Investigators allege residue from the explosives was found in Beal’s Toyota Prius, which he bought in February of last year. Records indicate he drove that car to the spa four days before the explosion, the FBI alleged.
Witnesses told investigators that Krajnyak said Beal was a “jealous, controlling” boyfriend, according to the affidavit.
“Krajnyak stated she was scared because he would threaten her and randomly come to the spa,” according to the FBI.
He was not charged with causing the blast after his arrest last year. He was charged only in federal court with possession of an unregistered destructive device. But federal prosecutors said further examination by the FBI raised questions as to whether the item met the definition of a `destructive device’ set out in federal law, and prosecutors later brought a motion to dismiss the charges, which was granted May 29. Beal claimed he had the materials because of his hobby building model rockets.
Federal officials said Monday Beal has now been charged with malicious destruction of a building resulting in Krajnyak’s death. He is expected to make an initial court appearance Monday afternoon.
Authorities said previously that more than 1,000 pieces of evidence were collected from the crime scene, 300 of which were sent to FBI’s Laboratory Division in Quantico, Virginia, to be examined.
Investigators have also accumulated “terabytes of digital media and hours of surveillance footage.”
The ingredients of the bomb could have been bought at retail stores, investigators say.
Anyone with information was asked to call the FBI tip line at (800) CALL-FBI. Video of the incident can be seen at www.fbi.gov/caexplosion.