LOS ANGELES – A federal jury today found a Long Beach man guilty of building and planting a package bomb that detonated inside an Aliso Viejo day spa in May 2018, killing his ex-girlfriend, causing serious injuries to two spa clients, and damaging a commercial office building.
Stephen William Beal, 64, was found guilty of four felony counts: use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.
United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton scheduled a November 17 sentencing hearing, at which time Beal will face a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.
“Using his expertise in explosives, Mr. Beal cowardly murdered his former girlfriend, permanently injured two other victims who were her customers, and risked the safety of many others in the area, including a day-care center across the street” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Thanks to the thorough investigation by the FBI, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Fire Department, and other law enforcement partners, I am pleased the jury saw through Mr. Beal’s efforts to avoid responsibility for his deplorable actions.”
“Hard work and a commitment to finding the truth about this despicable act paid off today,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “We are gratified that the jury’s verdict led to justice for Ildiko Krajnyak and Beal’s two surviving victims, who will endure the horror and pain of that awful day for the rest of their lives. This day is for them, their families and for the Aliso Viejo community.”
“I am thankful for the painstaking work of our investigators, hazardous devices team, and our federal partners working together to provide justice for Ms. Krajnyak’s family,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “While a verdict will not lessen the pain of their loss, nor take away the suffering of the two additional victims inside the spa when the bomb exploded, we hope they know that we never stopped investigating this shocking act of violence. Rest assured, the community is safer with today’s decision.”
According to the evidence presented at a three-week trial, a bomb exploded at a commercial office building in Aliso Viejo at approximately 1:05 p.m. on May 15, 2018. The explosion instantly killed 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak – who owned Magyar Kozmetika, a day spa located in the office building – and permanently injured two of her clients, a mother and her daughter.
One of the surviving victims testified at trial that she saw Krajnyak standing behind her desk opening a cardboard box immediately before the massive explosion. The surviving victim pulled her mother from the rubble and together they escaped the burning building through a blown-out wall.
The evidence at trial showed that Beal became obsessed with Krajnyak after she attempted to distance herself from him following an 18-month romantic relationship. Krajnyak’s family and associates testified that Beal was controlling and possessive, and some said they feared for her safety.
During a search of Beal’s residence the day after the explosion, law enforcement found more than 130 pounds of explosive precursor chemicals and completed explosive mixtures, as well as electric matches and wires. Beal had years of experience building high-powered model rockets and homemade pyrotechnics, and laboratory testing determined that the explosive mixture Beal used in the bomb came from the same chemicals he had at his home,
The FBI’s Evidence Response Team spent more than two weeks collecting and processing evidence from the scene of the bombing. The FBI recovered parts of a 9-volt battery and wire fragments that were embedded in the ceiling above the blast site. The wires used in the bomb’s fusing system were of the same unique type as electric matches and wires found at Beal’s home.
Beal purchased the remaining items he needed to complete the bomb just days before the bombing. Store security camera footage showed Beal using cash to buy a single 9-volt battery six days before the bombing. Beal also purchased three cardboard boxes that matched the particular size and shape of the box the surviving victim testified Krajnyak opened at the moment the bomb exploded.
Beal kept tabs on Krajnyak before the bombing, checking her online schedule and social media accounts, according to evidence presented to the jury. Security camera footage and cellular locational data showed that Beal, who had a key to the business, visited the spa on multiple occasions before the bombing while Krajnyak was out of the country. Beal left the package bomb for Krajnyak to open upon her return.
In a separate case, Beal is scheduled to go on trial on November 14 on federal fraud charges alleging he failed to report in a bankruptcy proceeding $350,000 he received from his late wife’s estate. Beal also allegedly schemed to fraudulently obtain insurance benefits and Social Security payments.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes special agents with the FBI and deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, investigated this matter. Task Force members who participated in the investigation included IRS Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Homeland Security Investigations; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Irvine Police Department; the Anaheim Police Department; and the Orange County Fire Authority. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Santa Ana Police Department, the Newport Beach Police Department and the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center provided assistance.
The Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché in Thailand, the United States Department of State, and the U.S. Consulate in Vietnam provided valuable assistance. United States Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations provided substantial assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Annamartine Salick, Chief of the National Security Division, along with Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Takla, Solomon Kim and Sarah Gerdes, all of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, are prosecuting this case.