Charges Dropped in Deadly Southern California Explosion

This image taken from cellphone video shows a building after a fatal explosion in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The cause of the blast is being investigated. (Raul Hernandez via AP)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday dropped criminal charges against the ex-boyfriend and business partner of a woman killed when a bomb exploded and badly damaged the Southern California building she was in.

Stephen Beal, 59, of Long Beach, was arrested May 16, a day after an explosion killed Ildiko Krajnyak, 48. Krajnyak was a beautician who owned a day spa called Magyar Kozmetika in the Orange County city of Aliso Viejo.

Beal was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of bomb-making materials, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. At the time of his arrest, Eimiller said Beal was not being charged in connection with the blast.

A 10 page criminal complaint filed May 17 included details that a search of Beal’s home revealed two completed improvised explosive devices, precursor chemicals, batteries, 130 pounds of explosives, rocket tubes, e-matches, two handguns and a shotgun.

But in a motion filed Saturday, prosecutors said they doubted explosive materials found in Beal’s home – which he told investigators were used to build model rockets – could produce a blast as powerful as the one that killed Krajnyak.

“Further examination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation raises questions as to whether the devices meet the statutory definition for a ‘destructive device,” prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the motion.

Beal had been in jail but was released Sunday.

The blast shattered windows, buckled floors of the building and set off car alarms throughout the Orange County community.

Firefighters also evacuated more than 100 children from a nearby preschool as a precaution.

Two female patrons who were inside the spa at the time of the explosion sustained injuries requiring surgery, and one other person was treated for smoke inhalation.

At a news conference the day of the explosion, law enforcement officials said the blast appeared to be a deliberate act.

Remnants of an explosive device were found inside the spa after the blast.

It remains unclear how the device – which was disguised as a mail package – ended up in the building. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said it did not deliver the package.

With criminal charges against Beal dropped, the question of who delivered the bomb remains unanswered. Authorities have not named any more suspects.

On his website, Beal describes himself as an executive consultant turned actor.

Photos on Beal’s Facebook page show him with Krajnyak on vacation trips to Cuba and Mexico. In other photos, the pair is sitting together on the beach and riding jet skis.

Beal listed Krajnyak as the chief executive officer of a skin care company he founded last year, according to paperwork filed with the California secretary of state last month.

Beal’s company, I and S Enterprises, is based in the same building where the explosion occurred.

 

 

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