Crime & Justice

FBI arrests ex-boyfriend of woman killed in OC day spa explosion on bomb charge

Courtesy NBC Los Angeles

A former boyfriend and business partner of a woman killed in an explosion at the spa she owned was charged Thursday with a federal count related to explosives found in his house.

Stephen Beal was not charged with causing the blast that killed his former girlfriend and seriously injured two patrons of her spa when she opened a box that erupted in a fiery explosion.

Beal, 59, a rocket enthusiast and actor in several short films, and Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, a cosmetologist, had recently broken up, his son, Nathan Beal, said.

Stephen Beal was arrested late Wednesday after investigators found two improvised explosive devices in his Long Beach home, investigators said.

He was handcuffed when he arrived in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on a charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device.

A phone message seeking comment from Beal's public defender was not immediately returned.

Beal was an investment banker who had turned to acting after his wife's death several years ago, said friend and neighbor Steven Young.

"You can't imagine him doing what we've been hearing," Young said referring to the blast. "I don't recall him ever being visibly angry at anything. He's been a good neighbor and a good friend."

Nathan Beal said it was "highly unlikely" his father was guilty of any charge related to a destructive device.

The father and son build sport rockets fuelled by a propellant that is commercially and legally available at specialty hobby stores. The biggest of the rockets used about 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of fuel in multiple motors.

"Probably what they found were motor cases made out of aluminum," Nathan Beal said.

State records show Stephen Beal and Krajnyak were officers in a skin care business called I&S Enterprises. The name of the business uses the letters of their first initials.

Krajnyak had just returned home after visiting family in her native country of Hungary.

Laszlo Krajnyak choked up while speaking from his home in Tiszaujvaros about his sister. He said she had just been there, following his visit to the states last month to help with her business that offered services such as facials, waxing and wrinkle treatments.

He heard about the bombing from news coverage.

The spa in Aliso Viejo, about 50 miles (81 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, had just reopened when the blast rocked the two-story office building Tuesday.

Remnants of a device found inside the badly damaged spa were sent by the FBI to a crime lab for analysis.

Investigators searched the business on Wednesday, along with Beal's home and the home Krajnyak shared with her mother and estranged husband in Trabuco Canyon.

Beal's wife died in 2008 and his adult children had moved out of the house, Young said. Beal seemed happier after meeting Krajnyak and spoke of her frequently.

"I think he was happy to have found someone he could connect with," said Young, who never met Krajnyak.

Photos on Beal's Facebook page showed him vacationing with Krajnyak on a beach in Cuba, riding jet skis in Mexico and dining in Portugal.

Krajynyak's Facebook page had selfies and shots of scenery and food from Portugal and Canada. The photos didn't show Beal.

This story has been updated.