UPDATE: Federal Charge Dropped Against Ex-Boyfriend of Aliso Viejo Bombing Victim • Long Beach Post

Federal prosecutors quietly dropped a criminal charge against the ex-boyfriend of the woman killed in an Aliso Viejo building explosion, saying in a weekend court filing that it’s now unclear if items found at his Long Beach home can be considered destructive devices.


ADVERTISEMENT - Story continues below
Advertise with the Post

Stephen Beal, 59, was arrested May 16, the day after the explosion that killed Beal’s business partner and former girlfriend, Ildiko Krajnyak, 48. Beal was not charged with causing the explosion. He was charged only with possession of an unregistered destructive device.

According to an earlier court affidavit, federal investigators searching Beal’s home found a pair of pipe bombs and three firearms, none of which were registered.

But federal prosecutors filed a motion dated Saturday asking that the criminal complaint against Beal be dismissed.

“Further examination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation raises questions as to whether the devices meet the statutory definition for a ‘destructive device’ contain in” federal law, according to the motion.

Beal had been jailed without bail. It was not immediately clear if he had been released.

Krajnyak was killed in the May 15 explosion that occurred when she opened a cardboard box inside the day spa she co-owned with Beal, Magya Kozmetika, on the first floor of a building at 11 Mareblu in Aliso Viejo. Two other women were seriously injured but survived.

PREVIOUSLY: Long Beach Man Charged With Possessing “Destructive Device” As Aliso Viejo Explosion Investigation Continues

5/17/18 at 3:00PM | Federal prosecutors have just charged Long Beach resident Stephen Beal, an ex-boyfriend and business associate of the woman killed in Tuesday’s Aliso Viejo explosion, with a single count of possessing an unregistered destructive device. He is not charged with anything stemming from the explosion.

Beal is set to make his initial appearance sometime this afternoon in federal court in Santa Ana.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Santa Ana, a woman who was injured in Tuesday’s explosion in Aliso Viejo told investigators the blast occurred when Ildiko Krajnyak opened a brown cardboardbox that had been on the floor near the front counter of her day spa.

The affidavit indicates that investigators who searched the spa following the explosion found “a nine-volt battery, a cellular telephone, melted material that appeared to be duct tape and loose wires.”

Upon searching the home of Krajnyak’s ex-boyfriend, Stephen Beal, investigators found “two completed improvised explosive devices and three firearms.”

He told investigators, however, that “he did not have material to create an explosion that large.”

PREVIOUSLY: Long Beach Man Arrested in Connection to Deadly Aliso Viejo Explosion

A man was arrested by authorities investigating the explosion that killed a Trabuco Canyon woman at an Aliso Viejo building earlier this week, the FBI reported today.

“During the course of the investigation into the May 15 explosion in Aliso Viejo, investigators found a destructive device during the service of a search warrant at a Long Beach residence,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement this morning.

“The resident, Stephen Beal, 59, of Long Beach, was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an unregistered destructive device,” Eimiller said. “Mr. Beal is not being charged in connection with the explosion. He is expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana this afternoon.”

No other details will be released until Beal is charged, Eimiller said.

Investigators said Wednesday they “do not believe this was an accident” but they did not know how the device arrived at the building.

Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, a beautician who owned a day spa called Magyar Kozmetika in the building at 11 Mareblu, was identified as the victim of Tuesday afternoon’s explosion. The business is on the first floor of the building.

FBI agents conducted a search at Krajnyak’s home on Drover Court in Trabuco Canyon and were seen carrying several boxes out of the house. Investigators also served a search warrant at a home in Long Beach, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

Barnes did not provide any details of the warrants, but NBC4 reported from Long Beach that a man was being questioned, and neighbors reported that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was distraught. That man apparently was Beal.

Neighbor Mushroom Montoya told ABC7 that neighbors were in shock.

“We can’t fathom he would do anything mean, or nasty, or anything else,” Montoya said. “He used to make rockets about as big as I am. He would do it in the driveway by his garage. He’d go out to the desert and fire them off.”

Neighbors told Channel 7 that Beal and Krajnyak dated and that he was an investor in her day spa. Pictures of the pair are on Beal’s Facebook page, which shows them traveling around the world.

“If I were the police and I have an explosive issue—a bombing—and I come to this house and I find rocket fuel plus they were business partners, then all these things kind of enter into play in terms of it being suspicious,” Montoya said.

Barnes said an explosive device went off inside the day spa shortly after 1:00PM Tuesday.

“We do not believe at this time that this was an accident,” Barnes said in comments that suggested a parcel bomb was involved.

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said the “working theory is this explosion was caused by a device,” and he reiterated that investigators “do not believe this was an accident.”

“There are some components we have located at the scene that are inconsistent with what one might expect to find at this business,” Delacourt said. He said those items were being shipped to the FBI’s crime lab for analysis.

Delacourt urged anyone who might have information about the blast to call a hotline at (800) CALL-FBI, or (800) 225-5324.

Authorities initially went to the building at 1:10PM Tuesday in response to a report that a car had crashed into the building, but Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito and sheriff’s officials said later that was not the case. Bommarito said the blast occurred inside the building, and the woman who died was in close proximity to the explosion.

Authorities did not actually enter the building until late Tuesday, trying to ensure there was no danger of additional explosions. Outside the building, a massive contingent of sheriff’s deputies and fire crews amassed, joined by federal agencies summoned to assist with the probe.

Sheriff’s deputies snapped photos of vehicles that were leaving the scene throughout the afternoon.

Bommarito said one of the injured people suffered from smoke inhalation.

The other two victims, both women, were believed to be customers inside the day spa when the explosion occurred, Barnes said. Authorities said they remained hospitalized and were in surgery Wednesday but were expected to survive.

Irene White, a family friend, told reporters Wednesday that the explosion was a “complete shock” to the victim’s loved ones.

“Family always came first for Krajnyak,” White said. “She took great pride in finding beauty in everyone.”

White appealed for contributions to a Go Fund Me site, which seeks financial assistance to bring the victim’s son, Keanu Laszlo Vestil, home from Seattle, where he attends the University of Washington. The fund also seeks help for the funeral expenses.

Delacourt said investigators have not established a motive for the blast. Some media reports have indicated that Krajnyak had recently been through a difficult relationship breakup. Delacourt declined to comment on possible leads investigators might be pursuing.

Federal court documents show that Krajnyak and her husband, Ronilo Vestil, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, stating in part that their home was “scheduled to be sold through foreclosure” in December of that year. The couple filed paperwork in January asking for dismissal of the case, and it was officially closed on Monday.

According to Orange County court records, Krajnyak was involved in a long-running dispute with a former tenant at a property in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Krajnyak moved to have the tenant, Gary Barney, evicted from the property in 2010, claiming he owed $8,800 in back rent.

Krajnyak won a judgment against Barney in November 2010, but was still working to collect a total $23,034 from him as recently as January of this year, records show. The additional money included expenses and interest.

PREVIOUSLY: FBI, ATF Investigate Long Beach Home in Connection to Deadly Aliso Viejo Explosion

5/16/18 at 12:35PM | A Trabuco Canyon woman was identified today as the woman killed in an Aliso Viejo building explosion and investigators confirmed they “do not believe this was an accident,” but no arrests were immediately reported.

Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, a beautician who owned a day spa called Magyar Kozmetika inside the building at 11 Mareblu, was identified as the victim in Tuesday afternoon’s explosion. The business is on the first floor of the building.

FBI agents conducted a search at Krajnyak’s home on Drover Court in Trabuco Canyon overnight and were seen carrying several boxes out of the house. Investigators also served a search warrant at a home in Long Beach, Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

Barnes did not provide any details of the warrants, but NBC4 reported from the scene in Long Beach that a man was being questioned at the scene, and neighbors reported that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was distraught.

Barnes said an explosive device went off inside the day spa shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“We do not believe at this time that this was an accident,” Barnes said.

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said the “working theory is this explosion was caused by a device,” and he reiterated that investigators “do not believe this was an accident.”

“There are some components we have located at the scene that are inconsistent with what one might expect to find at this business,” Delacourt said.

He said those items were being shipped to the FBI’s crime lab for analysis.

Despite various media reports suggesting the explosive device was somehow delivered to the building, Delacourt said, “At this time, we do not know how the device arrived at the location.”

He urged anyone who might have information about the blast to call a hotline at (800) CALL-FBI, or (800) 225-5324.

Irene White, a friend of Krajnyak’s family, gave a brief statement outside her home late Wednesday.

“This is a complete shock to family and her friends,” White said. “We are in full support of our public authorities to do their jobs in hopes of finding answers to many of the unanswered questions. Families always came first for Ildiko. She took great pride in finding beauty in everyone. At this time, our family and friends would like to privately mourn a mother, a wife, a daughter and a friend.”

She asked people willing to donate to the family to help with funeral expenses and to bring Krajnyak’s son, Keanu Laszlo Vestil, home from college at the University of Washington, to visit www.gofundme.com/ildikokrajnyakmemorialfund.

Authorities initially responded to the building at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday on a report that a car had crashed into the building, but Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito and sheriff’s officials said later that was not the case. Bommarito said the blast occurred inside the building, and the woman who died was in close proximity to the explosion.

Authorities did not actually enter the building until late Tuesday, trying to ensure there was no danger of additional explosions. Outside the building, a massive contingent of sheriff’s deputies and fire crews amassed, joined by federal agencies summoned to assist with the probe.

Sheriff’s deputies snapped photos of vehicles that were leaving the scene throughout the afternoon.

Bommarito said one of the injured people suffered from smoke inhalation.

The other two victims, both women, were believed to be customers inside the day spa when the explosion occurred, Barnes said. Authorities said they remained hospitalized and were in surgery Wednesday but were expected to survive.

Children and staff at nearby Academy on the Hills preschool initially sheltered in place while the investigation continued, but children were later evacuated to a Target store parking lot so they could be reunited with their parents. No children were injured, officials said.

Video from the scene showed teachers leading the children along a sidewalk toward the Target. Other people could be seen wheeling cribs down the street as the area was evacuated.

A woman who was on her way to an appointment in the area told CBS2 she arrived just after the blast occurred, and she saw fire on the roof of the building.

“Then everyone started running out of buildings everywhere with looks on their faces of just horror,” the woman said. “… I saw two women come out full of blood, hair singed, just glass stuck to the hair, glass stuck to their bodies. Their skin was burned and peeled back, and they were just in shock.

“… They weren’t on fire, they were helping each other across the street, walking very slowly and a lot of shock, shaking, just full of ash all over their face, eyes bloodshot, just blood all over,” the woman said.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the same block of Mareblu at 11:35 p.m. Monday for a “patrol check,” according to sheriff’s records. Barnes said the response was a “deputy-initiated” check of the property at 15 Mareblu. A source familiar with the case said, however, that a bomb threat was being investigated. It is unclear how the threat was conveyed, the source said.

Delacourt said investigators have not established a motive for the blast. Some media reports have indicated that Krajnyak had recently been through a difficult relationship breakup. Delacourt declined to comment on possible leads investigators might be pursuing.

Federal court documents show that Krajnyak and her husband, Ronilo Vestil, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, stating in part that their home was “scheduled to be sold through foreclosure” in December of that year. The couple filed paperwork in January asking for dismissal of the case, and it was officially closed on Monday.

According to Orange County court records, Krajnyak was involved in a long-running dispute with a former tenant at a property in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Krajnyak moved to have the tenant, Gary Barney, evicted from the property in 2010, claiming he owed $8,800 in back rent.

Krajnyak won a judgment against Barney in November 2010, but was still working to collect a total $23,034 from him as recently as January of this year, records show. The additional money included expenses and interest.

Free news isn’t cheap.

We believe that everyone should have access to important local news, for free.

However, it costs money to keep a local news organization like this one—independently owned and operated here in Long Beach, without the backing of any national corporation—alive.

If independent local news is important to you, please consider supporting us with a monthly or one-time contribution. Read more.

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $5.00 Monthly

Share this:

« »