Five years later, her mother’s life took an unexpected and nightmarish turn, and Chase-Wright crossed into a world where she did whatever she could to save her mother.
Chase-Wright’s days were spent working for a talent agency and all other available time was spent trying to get people to believe her mother was innocent and to find a way to bring her home.
”I went to Congress members in California, to senators, to teachers and professors ... anyone who knew any way of helping and it went on for two years,” she said.
Her family’s ordeal began in 1995 when Sandra Chase, formerly of Haverhill and living in Florida, accompanied her neighbor on a trip to Ecuador to see religious sites. But their return trip home turned terribly wrong when, at an airport in Quito, Ecuador, they were confronted by authorities who tore Chase’s luggage apart and claimed they found a large quantity of cocaine. There were no drugs and there was no evidence, her daughter said.
Sandra Chase and her male friend were sent to prison without a trial. He was locked up men’s prison and she was taken to a women’s prison, where she was held for nearly two years. He was held several years longer. Sandra Chase’s ordeal ended about two years after her arrest. With the assistance of U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, and the attention brought to the case through a “60 Minutes’’ TV episode with Mike Wallace that was filmed in the prison in Ecuador, Sandra Chase was freed on humanitarian grounds.
Those fighting for Chase’s rights confronted officials inside the prison and went before the nation’s congress to introduce a due-process bill, which was passed within 24 hours, Chase-Wright said. Her mother was then released.