After a package bomb killed a California day spa owner last May, investigators arrested her business partner and ex-boyfriend Stephen Beal and accused him of possessing an unregistered destructive device.
The charge was dropped two weeks later. But on Sunday, after a 9-month follow-up investigation, authorities arrested Beal again and charged him with carrying out the fatal bombing as part of a targeted attack against his former girlfriend.
“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,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.
The powerful package bomb blew out the windows and walls of the Magyar Kozmetika day spa in Aliso Viejo, California, Hanna said in a press conference on Monday. Ildiko Krajnyak, the spa’s owner, was killed in the blast after opening a cardboard box, and two customers were seriously injured, Hanna said.
Beal is charged with malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, a federal charge that has the possibility of life in prison without parole.
CNN has reached out to Beal’s federal public defender for comment. Beal has denied being involved in the bombing, according to the federal criminal complaint, and said that as co-signer on the lease, the bombing hurt him financially.
The complaint cites comments from Krajnyak’s spa clients who said that the owner was afraid of her boyfriend, identified as Beal. One witness said that Krajnyak said her boyfriend was jealous, controlling and possessive and that he would threaten her and randomly come to the spa, according to the complaint.
In the months before the bombing, Krajnyak had told Beal that she was in a relationship with another man, and her relationship with Beal ended, Hanna said. Beal admitted to feeling “hurt and betrayed” when she told him this, the complaint states.
There was no evidence of an ideological motivation in the attack, according to Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
According to the complaint, Beal consented to a search of his home and investigators found about 130 pounds of explosive precursors, electric wires, a battery connector, and other items. In interviews with investigators, Beal said that he had been a model rocket enthusiast but that it had been years since he made model rockets or fireworks, the complaint states.
However, swabs of his vehicle, which was purchased just months before the explosion, found evidence of chemicals consistent with the car having been used to transport an explosive device, the complaint says.
In addition, investigators found that Beal had purchased a battery a week before the explosion that was consistent with the partially destroyed battery found at the blast scene. He also purchased three cardboard boxes similar to the box the victim was opening when the bomb detonated, authorities said. Further, surveillance cameras captured Beal driving to the spa four days before the blast.