; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Just the Facts?: Dad, 2 Sons Die During Hike -- Croc Head Mystery -- 'Red October' Cyber Espionage Campaign Uncovered

Weird: Dad and Two Young Sons Die During Hike in Missouri

On a weekend trip that was a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, an outdoors-loving Air Force veteran ventured out with two of his sons for a hike on a remote trail. Clad only in light jackets and sweaters, the three apparently didn't know how rapidly the weather would turn ugly, and that proved deadly.

Searchers found the soaked bodies of 36-year-old David Decareaux and the two boys – ages 8 and 10 – on the Ozark Trail on Sunday, a day after Decareaux declined a passerby's offer of a ride back to the lodge where they had been staying, Reynolds County Sheriff Tom Volner said. The cold had killed them, he said.

Only the family's 4-month-old yellow Labrador retriever survived the hike. He was found near Decareaux, who died at the scene, and the two boys, who were declared dead at a hospital after hours of efforts to revive them failed.

The tragedy crushed Decareaux's father-in-law, Keith Hartrum, who described the family as tightly knit, "always on the go and adventurous."

"Dave was a great guy, a good father, son-in-law and husband," Hartrum told The Associated Press. "Those two boys were just precious – smart, very nice kids."

It was nearly 60 degrees Saturday morning when Decareaux and his sons set out on the popular trail that runs through a sparsely populated area of southeast Missouri. Decareaux was wearing only a light jacket, while one of his sons was clad in a fleece pullover, and the other a sweater, Volner said.

They were ill-equipped as the temperature sank into the 40s, and a storm that would drop 2 inches of rain set in, making the trail all but impassable.

Volner said there are no caves or other places of refuge along the trail. Although Decareaux had a cellphone and flashlight with him, both devices lost power at some point, his wife, Sarah, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday.

A passer-by spotted the hikers more than three hours into their journey and asked if they needed a ride back to the Brushy Creek Lodge near Black, where Decareaux's wife and their three other children – ages 12, 4 and 2 – were staying. But Decareaux declined, telling the man they could make it back, the sheriff said.

"They just missed their turn back to the lodge," the sheriff said. "By that time, their light played out. You don't have any ambient light down here because there are no cities or towns. When it's dark you can't see the back of your hand."

Officials at the lodge called the sheriff's department about 7 p.m. Saturday, concerned that the hikers had not returned. A search involving more than 50 volunteers on foot, horseback and in vehicles lasted until about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when flash-flooding in creeks forced searchers to back off until daylight.

By then, it was freezing, and the temperature had dipped to the upper 20s by sunrise.

It wasn't long after that that the hikers' drenched bodies were found, their dog beside them. No autopsies were planned, and the deaths were attributed to hypothermia, Volner said.

Hartrum described Decareaux, who lived in Millstadt, Ill., as a doting father and spiritual man who had retired from the Air Force in recent years and was working with the Defense Department in a job he couldn't discuss, even privately. Karen Petitt, a spokeswoman at southwestern Illinois' Scott Air Force Base, said Decareaux worked there for the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency.

Decareaux and his wife, Sarah, were married about 14 years ago after a chance meeting that was "love at first sight," said Hartrum, who lives near Waterloo, Ill. They made the most of his overseas assignments, using them to explore Europe over much of the past decade with his family, he said.

"They had a strong, good, healthy marriage," he said, noting the Decareaux was an experienced hiker "who just got caught up (last weekend) in a freak situation" that proved fatal.

Sarah Decareaux said prayer and her spiritual faith were helping her press on.

"We are a Christian family," she told the Post-Dispatch as she headed to a funeral home to make arrangements. "I know where they are now." - HP


Croc Head Mystery

A gigantic crocodile head, found washed ashore on the beach at St Lucia, South Africa, has locals abuzz and determined to find out “whodunnit”. Was it poachers? A shark? Or that most dangerous of African mammals, a hippo? The head of the reptile, which is thought to have been around 3.5 metres long, was discovered by Neale and Brigitte Cary Smith, about a kilometre from the mouth of the Black Umfolozi River on 5 January. Neale said representatives of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, who had seen the enormous head, had agreed with him about the reptile’s approximate size.

“There has been a lot of debate over whether it was poached, or killed by a hippo or a shark. The general consensus is that it was poached. But hippos can and do do this kind of thing to crocodiles. About 18 months ago, in the estuary, crocodiles killed a baby hippo. The adults were very angry and attacked the crocodiles and bit them in half.” But the possibility remains that the culprit could be a shark - a big one. Neale added: “I do a lot of fishing and see sharks biting other sharks, marlin and so on and the marks on the crocodile looked to me like a shark bite.”

He says as much in his video even pointing out an area on the flank of the crocodile and saying: “You can see where the shark has actually ripped it. On the side here, in the flesh, you can see the shark teeth.” Mike Anderson-Reade, from the Natal Shark Board, said that in nearly four decades of working with sharks, he’d never heard of one taking on a crocodile, but he couldn’t rule out the possibility. “It’s rare for our fresh water crocodiles to go into the sea, and one wouldn’t stay in very long if it did because they have an osmosis problem and would dehydrate. They are not like the saltwater crocodiles in Australia."

Anderson-Reade added. As for whether the reptile might have been preyed on after death, Anderson-Reade said it would be difficult to prove. Both tiger and bull sharks frequent the North Coast and the latter are notorious for hanging around river mouths and estuaries, as they are able to live in both salt and fresh water. Anderson-Reade thought it unlikely that a tiger shark was involved. “While tigers [sharks] can and do swim inshore and are notorious for eating anything and everything they come across, they would be unlikely to enter a fresh-water environment. Unlike bull sharks, they simply would not survive in this kind of environment,” he added. - News24


Lair of the Beasts: A World War Wild Man

Across what used to be Soviet Central Asia, as far west as what are parts of Europe, and as far east as Mongolia, reports have long proliferated of hairy creatures known as Almas or Almasty that seem to be far more akin to men than they do apes; although they reputedly demonstrate clear and undeniable characteristics of both.

Opinion is acutely divided upon what these beasts are, or may be. It is deeply tempting to theorize that they may be surviving pockets of our closest relative - the Neanderthals - who supposedly died out in the later part of the Pleistocene epoch, more familiarly known as the Ice Age.

Certainly, some researchers, and most notably the late American anthropologist and cryptozoologist, Professor Grover Krantz, concluded that the Almasty may well be true humans: nothing less than surviving tribes of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, similar to, but far more primitive than, the aboriginal natives of the more obscure parts of South America and southeast Asia. Continue reading at Nick Redfern: Lair of the Beasts

The World's Weirdest Places

The Dead Roam the Earth: True Stories of the Paranormal from Around the World




'Red October' Cyber Espionage Campaign Uncovered

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have uncovered an "advanced cyber espionage network" - dubbed Red October - that has been active for at least five years and is targeting diplomatic and government agencies.

At the request of an unnamed partner, Kaspersky investigated and uncovered Red October (or Rocra) in October. Since at least 2007, it has targeted organizations mostly in Eastern Europe, former USSR members, and countries in Central Asia, but the malware has also showed up in Western Europe and North America.

Kaspersky has identified hundreds of infections worldwide, with most - about 35 - hitting those in Russia. About 21 infections were in Kazakhstan, while Azerbaijan and Belgium both saw 15. In the U.S., Kaspersky has logged six infections.

Kaspersky found that those behind Rocra reuse collected data in later attacks. "For example, stolen credentials were compiled in a list and used when the attackers needed to guess passwords and network credentials in other locations," the company said.

Meanwhile, Rocra has infiltrated not just traditional workstations, but mobile devices like smartphones - particularly those from Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia.
Rocra is also capable of "dumping enterprise network equipment configuration (Cisco); hijacking files from removable disk drives (including already deleted files via a custom file recovery procedure); stealing email databases from local Outlook storage or remote POP/IMAP server; and siphoning files from local network FTP servers," Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky said the data is has collected does not suggest a "nation-sponsored attack." The Flame and Stuxnet viruses, for example, were reportedly a joint U.S.-Israeli operation intended to stop Iran from expanding its nuclear program.
With Rocra, however, Kaspersky suggested that the exploits were the work of Chinese hackers, while the Rocra malware modules - which scan networks and collect data - appear to have been created by Russian-speaking operatives.

"The main purpose of the operation appears to be the gathering of classified information and geopolitical intelligence, although it seems that the information gathering scope is quite wide," Kaspersky said. "During the past five years, the attackers collected information from hundreds of high profile victims although it's unknown how the information was used. It is possible that the information was sold on the black market, or used directly."

At this point, Rocra is "still active," and data is being sent to multiple command-and-control servers, which "rivals in complexity the infrastructure of the Flame malware." Still, Kaspersky could not find any connection between Rocra and Flame.
"Compared to Flame and Gauss, which are highly automated cyberespionage campaigns, Rocra is a lot more 'personal' and finely tuned for the victims," Kaspersky concluded.

For more, see part one of Kaspersky's full paper on Red October. Part two, with detailed technical analysis of the modules involved in Rocra, will be published in the next few days. - PC Mag