After an explosion killed an Aliso Viejo woman, police found two improvised explosive devices in the home of her ex-boyfriend and business partner. Authorities are now investigating his involvement in her death.
48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak met 59-year-old Stephen Beal on a dating app in 2016. For the next year and a half, the couple traveled extensively to Cuba, Portugal, and Canada. Eventually, they decided to open a day spa called Magyar Kozmetika together in Aliso Viejo.
Shortly after the business opened its doors, the couple broke up after disagreements about money and their relationship. They decided to stay business partners; with Beal paying the monthly rent for the day spa location and half of its operating costs. There were times when Krajnyak did not make enough of a profit, and Beal would loan her the rest to cover her costs.
Last week, Krajnyak was killed when a cardboard package blew up at her spa, causing the floor to buckle and tearing the ceiling open. Soon after, investigators discovered two explosive devices, 130 pounds of explosives, two handguns and a shotgun at Beal's home.
Beal, who builds model rockets as a hobby, told investigators that Krajnyak was his ex-girlfriend and that hasn't built model rockets since 2004. But, on Beal's personal website, Beal describes his hobby and has posted about rocket launches on social media as recently as 2012.
An affidavit described the two explosive devices found in Beal's home as "not consistent with that of a model rocket." Beal told authorities that he had once built a smaller device to help a neighbor with a gopher problem; but that he did not have material to create a blast the magnitude of the one that killed Krajnyak.
Beal's wife, Christine, died in 2008. Her death was listed as "undetermined" by the Los Angeles County coroner, but noted pancreatitis, electrolyte imbalance, and chronic lead intoxication as factors. She was only 48 when she died. The coroner's report indicated Beal was "uncooperative" with hospital staff when she was admitted to the ICU of Community Hospital of Long Beach with complaints of 4-5 days of vomiting.
Beal filed to obtain a payout from his wife's life insurance policy, which was denied at least once according to his 2009 bankruptcy filing. It is unknown whether he ever received the money.
Federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Beal on Thursday in U.S. District Court, charging him with one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device. He has not yet been charged in connection with the explosion.
The explosion was described in graphic detail by witnesses. One woman told investigators that she was approaching the front counter to pay for her spa treatment when she noticed mail piled up alongside several brown cardboad boxes on the floor. Krajnyak picked up one of the boxes and began to open it when the device exploded, blowing the women backward. The witness suffered burns and cuts and left the building to wait for help.
Authorities are continuing to investigate any connection between Beal and the explosion. They are examining the victim's romantic and personal relationships in addition to her relationship with Beal.