It was just another ordinary day in the life of Ildiko Krajnyak in May 2018 until a package bomb exploded at her spa in Southern California and took her life. This tragic incident sent chills to all the local residents and even gained the attention of the entire nation. ‘Dateline: Death at the Spa’ covers the case as investigators delve into the details and discover that the bomb was intended especially for Ildiko. We get all the intricate details regarding the case with the help of the victim’s family members, friends, investigators, and prosecutors, who were actually involved in the case.
Ildiko Krajnyak Died in Her Day Spa While Working
Aged 48, Ildiko Krajnyak, of Hungarian descent, lived in Trabuco Canyon at the time of her demise. She had a son named Keanu Vestil, who was a college student in Washington state. Described as a kind-hearted, sweet, amicable, and hard-working woman, she was loved not just by her family but by her friends and other acquaintances as well. The determined and driven woman convinced one of her cousins, Eva Boni, to move to the States from Hungary. Boni looked up to her cousin and loved her for the amazing person she was.
On the professional front, Ildiko had a reputation for being a dedicated worker with about three decades of experience as an aesthetician. Despite spending so many years working, she still had the hunger for work as she was driven by her desire to give her son the best schooling possible. In the summer of 2016, she crossed paths with Stephen Beal, an amateur actor and a retired management consultant, on a dating app. While she was an established skin care expert who had filed for bankruptcy, he was a widower who was into acting and building model rockets. Over the following year or so, Ildiko and Stephen went on several international trips, covering countries like Portugal, Cuba, and Canada.
Together, the couple opened up a day spa called Magyar Kozmetica in Aliso Viejo, making Ildiko’s dream come true. Everything seemed to be going well in her life, but on May 15, 2018, at the age of 48, she died when a bomb in a cardboard package exploded at her day spa around 1 pm. Her remains were scattered inside the building, outside the window, and in the parking lot. Along with her, two others present at the spa were severely injured. Upon arriving at the scene, the authorities declared a second-alarm fire and a hazmat situation while a bomb squad investigated the cause of the blast. The investigators recovered various personal items from the ruins of the establishment, including a cell phone, loose wires, a nine-volt battery, and melted duct tape, all of which had been heavily damaged.
Jealousy and Rage Were the Motives Behind Ildiko Krajnyak’s Murder
After thoroughly inspecting the area of the explosion, the detectives began interviewing the family and friends of the 48-year-old aesthetician. As the investigation progressed, Ildiko’s partner, Stephen Beal emerged as the prime suspect as he had both the means as well as the motive to murder her, as per the police’s claims. Through the interviews with the victim’s loved ones, they learned that Stephen and Ildiko’s relationship was a tumultuous one, with the former being one of the few people who had the keys to the business. Over the years, their relationship began to deteriorate due to arguments over the subject of money and their dating exclusivity.
Earlier in 2018, the couple decided to break up and remain business partners. Stephen used to pay the $1,500 monthly rent for the day spa space and some more to cover half of its operating costs. When the police scoured through his Long Beach home, they found several chemicals, two cardboard tubes, a nine-volt battery connector, two improvised explosive devices, batteries, two handguns, a shotgun, and 130 pounds of explosives and precursors. The authorities believed that his hobby of building rockets also meant that he had some knowledge and skill to create a bomb.
It is believed that when Stephen came across messages from other men on Ildiko’s phone and realized that she was out of love and didn’t want to be in a relationship with him, he hatched a plan to commit the deed instead of acting in the heat of passion. Thus, in May 2018, he planted an explosive in her day spa under the guise of a cardboard package. When the aesthetician opened the box to check its content, the explosion was triggered which inflicted deadly injuries on her and also took two other victims — a mother and daughter — who had just received facials. Miraculously, despite being just a foot or two away from Ildiko when the package exploded, they survived. Since they were burned quite badly, they were hospitalized immediately.
The explosion turned out to be so lethal that it utterly destroyed the interior of the business. Impacting almost half the structure where the spa used to be, the explosion also caused the dislodging of bricks from walls, the ceiling to collapse, and the scattering of rubbles with body parts all around the area. In March 2019, a year or so after the tragic blast, the Long Beach resident Stephen Beal was arrested and taken into custody.
After a trial full of witnesses and pieces of incriminating evidence, in July 2023, the jury found Stephen Beal guilty of four felony counts — use of a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in death, 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 in the form of a bomb. Several months later, in January 2024, the 64-year-old convict was sentenced to life in prison for the first two charges, in addition to 30 years for the third count, and an additional 10 years for the fourth charge.