(CN) – A man suspected of sending a package bomb to his former girlfriend and business partner has been arrested on federal charges stemming from a deadly blast that destroyed a day spa in Aliso Viejo, California.
Stephen William Beal, 59, was arrested at his Long Beach, California, home on Sunday and charged with malicious destruction of a building that resulted in the death of Ildiko Krajnyak, Beal’s former girlfriend. Investigators said Krajnyak was the intended target of the bomb, and U.S. Attorney Nicole Hanna said at a Monday press conference that they believe Beal hand-delivered the package to Krajnyak.
Two customers at the Magyar Kozmetica day spa were seriously injured. One of the customers told investigators the explosion occurred when Krajnyak opened a cardboard box at the spa on May 18, 2018.
“This was a horrific intentional attack that killed an innocent woman and severely injured two others who will live with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives,” said Hanna.
According to the affidavit, investigators arrived at the building to find a hole in a side wall and human remains outside.
Beal was interviewed by Orange County Sheriff’s officials and FBI investigators on the day of the explosion. After Beal agreed to a search of his home FBI investigators found chemicals used to make explosives and 130 pounds of explosive precursors.
Beal was arrested a day after the bombing, but charges were dropped as prosecutors 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. He instead faced a charge of possessing an unregistered explosive device.
But in a show of force on Sunday, agents arrested Beal at his home and the bomb squad was brought in to search.
Investigators recovered a partially destroyed battery and bits of wire that were determined to be part of the bomb, and the FBI found “no meaningful differences” between them and materials found at Beal’s home according to prosecutors.
Investigators say Beal purchased the battery at a store in Long Beach a week before the explosion, and had purchased cardboard boxes similar to the one Krajnyak opened eight days before the explosion, according to the affidavit.
Investigators said chemicals found at the spa were similar to chemicals found in Beal’s car, which he purchased three months before the explosion and which he drove to Krajnyak’s four days before the blast.
A witness said Krajnyak described Beal as a jealous boyfriend who was controlling and possessive. They also said Krajnyak said she was scared of him because he would threaten her. According to investigators, the witness did not know Beal’s name but was able to identify him because Krajnyak had shared a photo of him.
Beal is a bit actor and co-owned the spa with Krajnyak. He is expected to appear in a Santa Ana courtroom on Monday.