Man used ‘weapon of mass destruction’ in fatal blast at O.C. spa, grand jury says

LONG BEACH CA MARCH 4, 2019 -- FBI agents continue their search Monday, March4, 2019, of the Long B
FBI agents search the home of Stephen Beal, who is charged in connection with a fatal blast at an Aliso Viejo day spa that killed his ex-girlfriend, in May 2018.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Long Beach man is facing additional felony charges after a federal grand jury returned an indictment against him in connection with the bombing of an Orange County day spa that killed his ex-girlfriend last year.

Stephen Beal, 59, had been charged with malicious destruction of a building resulting in death when he was arrested earlier this month in connection with the bombing of the Magyar Kozmetika spa in Aliso Viejo in May. The blast killed Beal’s ex-girlfriend, 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak, and injured two others.

Beal was also charged Wednesday with use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, use of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence and possession of an unregistered destructive device, all felonies, according to federal court records.

Krajnyak and Beal had opened the spa together during their relationship and decided to remain business partners even after their romance ended. Beal was paying monthly rent on the property where the spa operated at the time of the bombing, records show.


The surviving victims told investigators they saw Krajnyak opening a cardboard box shortly before the explosion, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

Beal had been a person of interest in the case since the beginning of the investigation. When investigators searched his home and car in May, they found two complete improvised explosive devices, two cardboard tubes, batteries, a nine-volt battery connector, 130 pounds of explosives and precursors, two handguns and a shotgun, court records show.

He was charged with one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device at the time, but the charge was ultimately dropped. At the time, he told investigators that he built model rockets.

Authorities said they recovered parts of the explosive device, including a destroyed battery and pieces of wire, from the spa after the explosion. A forensic analysis done by the FBI showed there were “no meaningful differences” between the bits of wire and wiring in a homemade explosive device found at Beal’s house, according to the affidavit.


In the days before the explosion, Beal had purchased a battery and several cardboard boxes consistent with those used in creating and shipping the device that exploded at the spa, authorities said.

Investigators also linked traces of chemicals found in Beal’s car to the explosion. Residue found in the car was consistent with chemical compounds that would have been found “if Beal’s vehicle was used to transport” an explosive device, according to the affidavit.

Beal is being held in federal custody without bail. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, plus an additional 40 years, if convicted of all charges.

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