Ex-boyfriend of woman killed in Aliso Viejo explosion to remain behind bars

Ex-boyfriend of woman killed in Aliso Viejo explosion to remain behind bars
Law enforcement officials inspect a car last week as part of an investigation into an explosion that ripped through an Aliso Viejo day spa on Tuesday, killing the owner and injuring two customers. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Saying that he posed a possible flight risk and danger to the community, a federal judge on Monday ruled that the former boyfriend of a woman who was killed in an explosion at her Aliso Viejo spa should remain in custody without the possibility of bail.

Stephen Beal of Long Beach has not been charged in connection with the explosion last week that killed Ildiko Krajnyak. Instead, he faces one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device.


During a brief appearance in court Monday afternoon, Beal wore a neon orange and khaki-colored jail jumpsuit and handcuffs, which were removed for the hearing. He did not enter a plea and his attorney declined to comment.

Krajnyak, 48, was killed Tuesday when a cardboard package blew up at the Magyar Kozmetika spa. The explosion tore open the ceiling and buckled the floor. Body parts flew into the parking lot.

Soon after, authorities made startling discoveries during a search of Beal's Long Beach home. They said they found two "complete" improvised explosive devices, two cardboard tubes, batteries, a 9-volt battery connector, 130 pounds of explosives and precursors, two handguns and a shotgun.

The findings were detailed in a 10-page affidavit and criminal complaint filed by federal authorities Thursday in U.S. District Court.

During Monday’s appearance, federal Public Defender Amy Karlin stated that Beal’s charges did not merit detention without bond. She asked for a $100,000 bond. The equity in Beal’s home would be used for the bond, Karlin said.

Beal receives disability checks due to a history of mental illness resulting from lead poisoning from many years ago, Karlin told the judge. She added that her client was undergoing medical treatment and had an appointment scheduled for May 30.

Karlin argued that her client did not present a flight risk and that Beal’s daughter would be willing to provide a signature bond for her father.

Federal prosecutors countered by stating that Beal had suffered a psychosomatic hallucination in 2004 and could not be trusted, even under electronic monitoring.

According to the court filing, Beal told investigators that Krajnyak was his former girlfriend and that he was a model rocket builder but dropped the hobby in 2004.

But on his personal website, Beal wrote that he builds and flies "large-scale" rockets and posted about rocket launches in an amateur rocketry Facebook group as recently as 2012.

When asked by investigators about one of the rocket devices, Beal first said he did not recognize it. Later, the filing said, he identified the device as a smoke detonator that releases smoke during flight so a rocket would stay visible.

When he was shown photographs of the two pipe IEDs, Beal initially said he didn't recognize them. But he later explained exactly where they were found, according to the affidavit, which said the devices were "not consistent with that of a model rocket."

Beal also said he once built a smaller device to help with his neighbor's gopher problem, the affidavit said. He told investigators that he saw news coverage of the explosion, and said he did not have material to create a blast that large, according to the document.

The couple met on a dating app in the summer of 2016. They traveled extensively and vacationed in Cuba, Portugal and Canada. They opened a day spa together in Aliso Viejo. Krajnyak was a skin care specialist who had recently filed for bankruptcy, and Beal was a widower who occasionally acted.


Their romance fizzled, authorities said, over disagreements about money and their dating exclusivity. In February or March, they broke up, but decided to remain business partners. Beal paid the $1,500 monthly rent for the spa space and half its operating costs. Sometimes, if Krajnyak didn't make enough, he'd loan her the rest.

Beal's wife, Christine, died in 2008, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. The coroner listed the manner of death as "undetermined," but pointed to pancreatitis, electrolyte imbalance and chronic lead intoxication as factors. She was 48.

A coroner's report obtained by Fox LA called the woman's death a "mysterious case," and noted that Beal was "uncooperative, not wanting to 'reveal' information to the hospital staff about" his wife or her medical history. Christine Beal had been vomiting for four to five days and was admitted into the intensive care unit at Community Hospital of Long Beach, according to the report.

A claim he filed to obtain a $21,225 payout from his wife's life insurance policy was denied at least once, according to court records from his 2009 bankruptcy filing. It's unclear if he ever received the money.

4:25 p.m.: This article was updated with details from court.

This article was originally published at 3:50 p.m.