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The bond was sealed in August when Uhlmann met Chantal for the first time. Uhlmann and Fischbach managed to get Uhlmann on Chantal's phone and visitors' list, and set up five-hour blocks of time on a Sunday and Monday. Uhlmann was driven by a deep curiosity about Chantal and says she immediately "fell in love with her as a human being."
Chantal says she instantly adored Uhlmann as well.
"I felt like I knew her," Chantal tells Pitch Weekly from jail. "We hugged and kissed and talked and cried and held hands. We were like three girls -- we could totally share everything. I don't know what I'd do without her now. Before I met Sally, I was eating and sleeping all the time. I gained 11 pounds. I didn't want to get up in the morning. She's been like a godsend to me. She's giving me hope to go on, hope that one day I'll be free."
The admiration was mutual.
"Chantal is so positive and cheerful, and when she smiles or when something tickles her funny bone, when she's engaged, everything about her lights up in a way that the entire chemistry around her is changed," Uhlmann says. "And I realized that she's like a true, living Buddha, that she's like this angel that has fallen to earth. And for her to be in such horrible, horrible circumstances and for her to still have this inner strength and this glow, all of a sudden I understood why Deb, who's this woman I respect so much and care about, had been fighting so much for Chantal. Then the connection was made, and here we were, Deb and Chantal and I, these three women, just sitting in the visiting area of federal prison, holding hands, just bawling our eyes out."
Fischbach remembers that when it was time for Uhlmann to meet Chantal, Fischbach "kept praying: 'If they don't have a connection it's all over.' When they met, it was instant. They were deeply connected in a very spiritual way, a deep female bonding. Everyone was tingling and just feeling a big, beautiful surge of energy. I just think of the dynamics between Chantal, Sally, and me as the perfect triangle: We are all in different places, but we're all so connected. There's just a very good flow."
The jury never had a chance to make that same kind of connection with Chantal, Uhlmann and Fischbach say, because F. Lee Bailey and Chantal's husband advised her to keep her mouth shut and look "like a million bucks" for the trial. Fischbach believes Chantal wouldn't be sitting in jail today if she had presented herself differently.
"William is so strong and had her completely spellbound. Her attorneys and all these men told her, 'Chantal, you will never spend one night in prison.' She believed that so much that the last night, when they were waiting for the jury to come back, she hadn't even made arrangements for her cats," Fischbach says, lamenting the fact that Chantal presented a far too glamorous image to the blue-collar jurors.
"Imagine if you were a hardworking person with four kids, divorced, and you see Chantal, perfectly manicured, Chanel suit, hair and nails done, absolutely beautiful. You're going to instantly hate her. But if she had gotten to talk, and worn a regular pants and shirt, nothing snazzy ..." Fischbach says with a sigh.