Model rocket enthusiast jailed for day spa bombing that killed business partner ex-girlfriend

A man in California was arrested Sunday morning for his alleged role in a May 2018 explosion that killed his ex-girlfriend at the day spa she owned.

According to the Los Angeles TimesStephen Beal, 59, was arrested without incident at an ATM in Long Beach. Beal was previously charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device for items he reportedly told investigators were for model rockets. However, the charge was dropped two weeks after Ildiko Krajnyak’s death at Magyar Kozmetika spa in Aliso Viejo.

According to KCBS, investigators at the time said they found two IEDs, three unregistered firearms, and more than 100 pounds of explosive material in Beal’s Long Beach home. Yet, Beal’s initial arrest was said not to be linked to the deadly blast a day earlier.

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The Times reported that a cardboard package detonated at the day spa, killing Krajnyak, 48, and seriously injuring two female customers. The explosion was purportedly so strong that it blew off the business’ ceiling and buckled its floor—with witnesses claiming they saw human remains fly into the parking lot.

Investigators said the explosive device was comprised of items that could’ve been purchased at a retail store. In their investigation, local and federal authorities gathered 1,000 pieces of evidence from the crime scene—300 of which was sent to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia—and a terabyte worth of data from electronic accounts and surveillance footage, according to The Orange County Register.

Authorities said they immediately knew they were dealing with a man-made explosion due to the items recovered from the blast site: a nine-volt battery, mobile phone, and melted materials which resembled duct tape and loose wire.

KTLA reported that the FBI busted down Beal’s garage and front doors at his Long Beach home Sunday.

Citing an FBI affidavit, the news station reported that Beal and Krajnyak remained business partners despite a recent break-up over exclusivity and money. Court records obtained by the Times stated that Beal was paying his half of the spa’s operating costs and $1,500 monthly rent.

“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,” the affidavit stated, according to the Associated Press. “Beal stated he was hurt and betrayed when Krajnyak told him this.”

After the deadly blast, Long Beach police said they’re opening an investigation into the 2008 death of Beal’s late wife. The Times reported that the Los Angeles County coroner’s office deemed the 48-year-old’s death “undetermined” but listed pancreatitis, electrolyte imbalance, and chronic lead intoxication as contributing factors.  According to KCBS, she had died while moving furniture.

Beal allegedly requested a $21,225 payout from her life insurance policy. He was reportedly denied once but it’s unclear whether he received the money. The Times reported that he had filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

The Associated Press reported that Beal is charged with suspicion of malicious destruction of a building that included a death and was ordered to remain detained following a brief appearance in federal court

Arraignment is scheduled for March 25.

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[Featured image: Ildiko Krajnyak, Stephen Beal/Facebook]