National News

Witness says box exploded when California blast victim opened it

Posted May 17, 2018 9:27 a.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2018 6:57 p.m. EDT

— A California day spa owner killed in a deadly blast this week opened a cardboard box that exploded, according to a federal complaint released Thursday.

The explosion Tuesday at Ildiko Krajnyak's day spa blew out walls and windows of the facility, heavily damaging the business, which was on the first floor of a two-story medical office building in Aliso Viejo, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, according to Orange County officials.

The blast injured three women, including two patrons of the day spa.

The two patrons had just finished their spa treatments when they approached the front counter to pay, according the federal criminal complaint. One victim said she noticed lots of mail piled up on the floor, along with three to four brown cardboard boxes, the complaint said.

Krajnyak picked up one of the boxes and placed it on the counter, the complaint said.

"As soon as Krajnyak opened the box, Victim 2 stated that the box exploded and recalled being blown backwards by the explosion onto the floor," the complaint said.

Krajnyak's business partner, Stephen Beal, was charged Thursday with one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device, after investigators found a "destructive device" at Stephen Beal's Long Beach residence. The FBI said Beal has not being charged with the blast.

He is expected to make an initial appearance Thursday afternoon at the US District Court for the Southern District of California in Santa Ana, the bureau said in a statement.

California secretary of state documents indicate Beal is the secretary and chief financial officer of a company called I&S Enterprises. Krajnyak, of Trabuco Canyon, is listed as the CEO, and the address for the business is the same as that of the day spa rocked by the explosion.

Police had said Wednesday that the blast, which also injured three people, was not an accident.

Two women are expected to survive. A third woman suffered smoke inhalation and was treated and released at the scene.

Evidence indicated the materials believed to be involved in the explosion were not consistent with items used at a day spa, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said Wednesday.

"At this point, our working theory is that this explosion was caused by a device," said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.

Police have not commented on a motive, and Barnes said Wednesday investigators hadn't nailed one down, but an FBI spokesman ruled out terrorism. Nothing indicates any threats were made before the blast, Orange County Sheriff's Cmdr. Dave Sawyer said earlier.

Authorities served three search warrants Wednesday -- one at the Aliso Viejo business, one in Long Beach and one in Trabuco Canyon, Barnes said.

A voice mail message for the spa, Magyar Kozmetika, said Tuesday would be Krajnyak's first day back from a trip.

Dong Shin, a witness, said he heard a loud boom minutes before his Tuesday appointment in a nearby building.

"And the ground shook," he said. "While the ground was shaking ... my body jolted and my head hit the wall."

He also saw "fire, smoke, insulation popping out of the walls, a lot of scared people running around, a lot of commotion," he said.

The blast, which erupted around 1 p.m, caused extensive damage to buildings in the area, Orange County Sheriff's Department Commander Dave Sawyer said.

In addition to the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting investigators.