LONG BEACH (CBSLA/AP) — A decade before his ex-girlfriend was killed in what investigators say was a targeted explosion in Aliso Viejo Tuesday, Stephen Beal’s wife died in what a coroner deemed a “mysterious case.”
Christine Beal’s death in 2008 came a few weeks after she fell down a flight of stairs in their Long Beach home while carrying a heavy piece of furniture with her husband, 59-year-old Stephen Beal. The bureau landed on her pelvic and hip area.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it was not clear if the death was related to trauma, but said there were no signs of foul play and ruled the manner “undetermined.” An autopsy said her death was caused by pancreatitis, electrolyte imbalance and chronic lead intoxication.
Beal won $550,000 in a lawsuit against a life insurance company that denied his claim after asserting the death was not an accident.
On Wednesday, Beal was arrested and accused of possessing an unregistered destructive device by FBI agents investigating Tuesday’s bomb blast that killed his former girlfriend, Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, inside the day spa she owned in a medical office building in Aliso Viejo. Two patrons, a mother and daughter, were seriously injured.
The FBI, however, says that 59-year-old Stephen Beal has not been charged with anything in connection to Tuesday’s deadly explosion.
The blast happened at around 1:10 p.m. Tuesday inside the Magyar Kozmetika spa at 11 Mareblu.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Santa Ana Thursday, the deadly explosion happened after Krajnyak opened a brown cardboard package that had been on the floor near the front counter of the spa.
Beal remains in custody as authorities search for a motive and suspect.
Krajnyak, a native of Hungary, had dated Beal until recently and they were business partners.
Beal told authorities he hadn’t made any bombs and that he didn’t possess enough explosive material for a blast the size of the one that ripped a corner out of the building and shook the neighborhood.
He was arrested after a search of his Long Beach home found two improvised explosive devices, three guns and more than 100 pounds of explosive material, according to court documents.
Beal, who reportedly met Krajnyak through an online dating app in June 2016, was leasing the space that housed the day spa, according to the FBI’s affidavit. The couple’s romance cooled earlier this year after disputes over exclusivity and finances, authorities said.
After the death of Christine Beal, 48, a coroner’s investigator wrote that Beal was “uncooperative, not wanting to ‘reveal’ information to the hospital staff about (his wife),” according to a copy of her autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press.
A toxicology screening showed she had benzodiazepine in her system, a medication commonly used for anxiety.
The tests showed her blood lead level was 24 times greater than the number set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and 100 times greater than the average for adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The autopsy report said medical examiners couldn’t conclusively say whether the fall contributed to her death and said it was a “mysterious case.”
“Death is probably natural, maybe trauma contributed but this is not known,” the report said.
Beal filed a lawsuit against his employer and insurance company after they denied his claim. A doctor hired by the insurance company said it was unlikely the death was “solely by an accident.” Ultimately, Beal prevailed in his suit against Marsh & McLennan, his former employer, and American Life Insurance Company of New York.
Beal called Orange County Sheriff’s deputies about two hours after Tuesday’s explosion, at the urging of his current girlfriend who had heard about the blast on news reports and knew he had a business in the building.
Beal didn’t enter a plea during an initial court appearance Thursday and was due back in court on Monday. His public defender would not comment on the case.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)