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Capitol Hill couple get odd package with hefty street value

(Courtesy Of Eric Anderson And Melanie Sloan - Courtesy Of Eric Anderson And Melanie Sloan)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2010

What happened to Eric Anderson and Melanie Sloan in their Capitol Hill townhouse Monday night occurs quite often in the city. So to D.C. police, it was fairly routine.

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As for Anderson and Sloan, though . . . well, imagine their surprise.

"I was making dinner," Sloan said. "And the doorbell rang."

It was a little after 6 o'clock, she said. When she opened the door, she saw a FedEx truck pulling away. On the doorstep was a roughly 2-by-2-foot box. She lugged it inside -- it was very heavy -- and left it on the floor. Then, thinking nothing of the package, she went back to the stove and stirred her risotto.

"We have an 11-month-old," said Anderson, her husband. "Sometimes somebody will send us a present, and we don't know what it is."

About 8 p.m., Anderson said, he opened the package, which proved to be no easy task.

Inside the box was another cardboard box, heavily taped. He said he cut open that box and found yet another, this one made of Styrofoam, also bound with clear plastic tape. "You start to think, 'Did someone send us something refrigerated?' "

Anderson, 47, a former Air Force intelligence officer who served in Baghdad and other dangerous locales, is on the faculty of the National Intelligence University. Sloan, 44, director of the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was a prosecutor for five years with the U.S. attorney's office in the District. So the two have radar for the suspicious.

And this was turning out to be a very suspicious package indeed.

"My curiosity got the better of me," Anderson said. "Melanie will tell you, I'm very risk-acceptant. Something about 10 years on active duty. And I ride a Harley most days of the week. I don't get worried about a lot of things."

As he likes to say, many a man's famous last words have been: "Watch this!"

With a pocketknife, he began hacking at the tape around the Styrofoam, although his wife urged him not to.

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