FBI: Man Arrested by Authorities Investigating Deadly Aliso Viejo Blast

posted by City News Service - 

ALISO VIEJO (CNS) - 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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