SANTA ANA, California – Law enforcement authorities associated with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on Sunday arrested a Long Beach man on federal charges stemming from an explosion last year that destroyed a day spa in Aliso Viejo, killed the man’s former girlfriend, and caused serious injuries to two spa clients.
Stephen William Beal, 59, was arrested pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed on Friday that charges him with malicious destruction of a building resulting in the death of Ildiko Krajnyak.
“This was a horrific intentional attack that killed an innocent woman and severely injured two others who will live with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “We will do everything we can to obtain justice for these victims and hold the perpetrator accountable.”
“The FBI and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, with the assistance of many JTTF partners, brought full forensic resources to bear on the case in order to process an enormous amount of evidence recovered from the crime scene and related searches,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Though Mr. Beal has been charged, our work will continue to ensure justice is done in this case for the victims who continue to endure the loss and the pain of this horrific attack.”
“During this extensive investigation, we have worked seamlessly with our local and federal partners,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “We are grateful for the many dedicated agencies who worked together to meticulously investigate and arrest the suspect. This will provide much-needed closure to our community.”
The charge against Beal relates to the May 15, 2018 explosion at the Magyar Kozmetica spa in Aliso Viejo. When first responders arrived on the scene, they discovered human remains outside of the building and noted major damage to building, according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint. A woman who survived the blast told investigators that the explosion was the result of the spa’s owner/operator, Ms. Krajnyak, opening a cardboard box.
Later that day, Beal contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and identified himself as the co-owner of the spa that was operated by his “ex-wife.” Sheriff’s deputies and FBI personnel responded to Beal’s residence, where he consented to a search that led to the discovery of chemicals used to manufacture explosives, according to the affidavit. Pursuant to a search warrant obtained the day after the explosion, investigators recovered approximately 130 pounds of explosive precursors.
Further investigation at the scene of the bombing led to the recovery of a partially destroyed battery and bits of wire that the FBI laboratory determined were part of the explosive device, according to the affidavit. FBI laboratory personnel determined that there were “no meaningful differences” between the bits of wire recovered from the explosion site and wire removed from a homemade device found at Beal’s residence, according to the affidavit. Investigators determined that Beal purchased a battery consistent with the partially destroyed battery found at the blast scene at a store in Long Beach one week prior to the explosion. And, eight days before the explosion, Beal purchased three cardboard boxes very similar to the box the deceased victim was opening when the bomb detonated.
Furthermore, chemicals detected at the explosion scene were similar to those detected inside Beal’s car, which he purchased only three months before the incident and which he drove to Magyar Kozmetica spa four days before the blast, the affidavit states.
In addition to the forensic evidence, the affidavit outlines statements of three friends of Ms. Krajnyak. One of those witness told investigators that Ms. Krajnyak said “that her boyfriend was jealous, controlling, and possessive of her,” and “she was scared because he would threaten her.” While that witness did not know the name of the boyfriend, Ms. Krajnyak had sent her a photo of the boyfriend, which was identified as Beal.
Beal is expected to make his initial appearance in this case this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If he were to be convicted of the crime of malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, Beal would face a potential sentence of life without parole in federal prison.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes special agents with the FBI and deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Task Force members who participated in the investigation included IRS Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Long Beach Police Department; the Irvine Police Department; the Anaheim Police Department; and the Orange County Fire Authority.
The case against Beal is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Takla and Annamartine Salick of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.