Neighbors say Long Beach man built rockets as FBI searches home in connection to OC explosion

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- As detectives search a Long Beach home in connection to a fatal explosion in Aliso Viejo, neighbors are in shock because their friend could be involved.

"We can't fathom he would do anything mean, or nasty, or anything else," neighbor Mushroom Montoya said.

The homeowner was identified as Stephen Beal. On Tuesday, investigators said a blast from a packaged device killed 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak at her spa in Aliso Viejo. Authorities said it is still unclear how the package was delivered to Krajnyak.

A suspect or motive has not been identified, but neighbors said one man who is familiar with explosives is Beal, who is also a known rocket-building hobbyist.

"He used to make rockets about as big as I am. He would do it in the driveway by his garage. He'd go out to the desert and fire them off," Montoya said.

Neighbors also said Beal and Krajnyak dated and that he was an investor in her day spa. Pictures of the pair are on Beal's Facebook page, which shows them traveling around the world.

"If I were the police and I have an explosive issue - a bombing - and I come to this house and I find rocket fuel plus they were business partners, then all these things kind of enter into play in terms of it being suspicious," Montoya said.

The last time neighbors saw Krajnyak was about a month ago and so they assumed the two ended their relationship.

Beal has not been identified by investigators as a person of interest or suspect in the case.

Earlier Wednesday, authorities not only searched the Long Beach home, but searched Krajnyak's day spa and a home in Trabuco Canyon, which is believed to be Krajnyak's residence.

A neighbor who lives across the street from the Trabuco Canyon home captured surveillance footage of a man identified by neighbor's as Krajnyak's husband arriving home around 1 a.m. Two hours later, footage shows several large, unmarked vehicles arriving and FBI agents heading toward the home.

A family spokesperson for Krajnyak released a statement in the afternoon asking for donations to a GoFundMe account so that Krajnyak's only son could be brought home from college in Washington to attend her funeral.

If you would like to donate to the page, you may do so by clicking here.
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