2 ‘complete’ IEDs found in home of blast victim’s ex-boyfriend, authorities say
Authorities investigating an explosion that killed the owner of an Aliso Viejo day spa and injured two customers say they have discovered two “complete” improvised explosive devices in the home of the dead woman’s former boyfriend, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
Stephen Beal, 59, of Long Beach, has been charged with one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device. During a brief court appearance Thursday afternoon, Beal wore street clothes and handcuffs, which were removed for the hearing. He was not asked to enter a plea, and his attorney declined to comment. U.S.
Beal has not been charged in connection with the explosion, which shook the two-story building so vigorously that people nearby thought it was an earthquake.
In a search of Beal’s home, investigators say they recovered two cardboard tubes, batteries, a nine-volt battery connector and 130 pounds of explosives and precursors, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Evan Jesch. Two handguns and a shotgun were also found in his home.
Beal told investigators that Krajnyak was his former girlfriend and that he was a model rocket hobbyist, but added that he has not pursued that interest since 2004.
When asked about one of the rocket devices, Beal “initially said he did not recognize it. Later, he acknowledged the rocket device was a smoke detonator whose purpose was to release smoke during flight so a rocket would stay visible,” according to the affidavit.
Documents filed in court also provided graphic details of the violence of the explosion.
One of the two victims injured in the explosion told investigators that she and her mother had finished treatments at the spa when they approached the front counter to pay Krajnyak.
The woman said she noticed mail piled up along with three to four brown cardboard boxes on the floor next to the front counter. The victim told investigators that Krajnyak picked up one of the boxes, placed it on the counter and opened it with a tool and the box exploded.
The woman said she was blown backward by the explosion onto the floor and saw flames and smoke envelop the spa, according to the affidavit. The victim’s mother told investigators she was knocked to the ground and saw “everything on fire” inside the spa.
The victim and her mother left the building and waited for help. They did not see what happened to Krajnyak.
The spa’s ceiling was blown open, and the floor of the unit above was buckled. Glass from the spa unit was blown into the parking lot, according to the affidavit. Krajnyak’s remains were discovered outside a broken window and in the parking lot of an adjacent building, the affidavit said.
In addition to having had a personal relationship, Beal and Krajnyak were also business partners who opened the spa together.
In paperwork filed with the California secretary of state last month, Beal listed Krajnyak as the chief executive officer of a skin care and retail company called I and S Enterprises Inc. Beal listed himself as the corporation’s secretary and chief financial officer.
In addition to the Long Beach residence, law enforcement officials searched three other locations Wednesday, including the damaged business and Krajnyak’s home in Trabuco Canyon.
Authorities are examining the victim’s romantic, personal and financial relationships, according to sources familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
Krajnyak worked for three decades as an aesthetician, according to public records and her LinkedIn account.
“She worked so, so hard, always trying to make money to support her family and send her son to private school,” said a neighbor who identified herself only as Tiffany. “She would go on trips, come back home and 45 minutes later, walk back out, heading to work.”
On his personal website, Beal said he worked as an executive consultant before turning to acting and performing late in life.
“His love of performing comes from a deep love of being seen,” his website biography reads.
His profile on the Internet Movie Database lists 15 credited roles, mostly in short films and television programs.
Beal also wrote on his website that he builds and flies “large-scale” rockets as a hobby. One of his rockets “exceeded Mach 2 in less than one second after launch,” he wrote.
Neighbor Steven Young, 63, said he sometimes saw Beal in his garage, working on rockets. Beal would go to the desert near Edwards Air Force Base to launch them with his children.
Beal’s wife, Christine, died in 2008, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. Young said she fell down a curved staircase while moving furniture in the family’s home. The coroner lists the manner of death as “undetermined.”
“He’s a good neighbor,” Young said. “It’s hard to fathom that he would be involved in something like this.”
3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the explosion.
2:35 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the search of Stephen Beal’s home.
1:25 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from neighbor Steven Young.
10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with more information about spa owner Ildiko Krajnyak.
9 a.m.: This article was updated with details from Stephen Beal’s website and Facebook account.
10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from a neighbor of spa owner Ildiko Krajnyak.
7:55 a.m.: This article was updated with details on the relationship between Stephen Beal and spa owner Ildiko Krajnyak.
7:30 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about Stephen Beal.
This article was originally published at 6:35 a.m.