Monday, September 2, 2013

People passing through our lives: Rosalie Willis and Jay White

From 1978 to 1980 I lived in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and worked with Rosalie ("Rosy") at a Holiday Inn. She was a waitress, I was a cook. She was a wonderful, warm, friendly person. When I found out about her past with Charlie I was blown away. Their son, Charlie Jr. came to visit her and I met him several times before I knew about her past. His eyes scared the hell out me! They were just like his dad's. When Rosy told me the story I damned near fell off of my chair. Jay, as he called himself then, was one the spookiest people I have ever met. I am sorry to hear of his suicide and of Rosy's passing. May they both rest in peace.

Let me start by saying that I stumbled upon your site totally by accident and was shocked to hear of both of their passing. Like I said, I had worked with Rosy for about a year and a half before I found out about her and Charles Sr.

She and I were both working at a Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon, IL and she was remarried and the step mother to a friend I had met after moving there. She truly was a sweetheart, very kind with a wonderful sense of humor.  I loved working with her. In the early spring of 1978 Rosy told me that her son from her first marriage was coming to visit her and about a week later she introduced me to "Jay" as he called himself then. I just assumed that his last name was Willis.

Jay was tall, well-built with shoulder length dark brown hair. He was friendly but a bit distant and very articulate.  I actually would not have given him a second thought were it not for his eyes. They were large, deep set and disturbing but I just couldn't put my finger on why I found them disturbing. I finally asked her stepson about Jay and just casually said that he had the creepiest set of eyes that I had ever seen.  He just kind of smirked, looked at me at said, "You don't know who he is, do you?". And then he dropped the bomb on me, Rosy's first husband was Charles Manson. I thought he was kidding until he told me to go talk to Rosy if I didn't believe him. And then I thought about Jay's eyes again. The chill that ran up my spine was unbelievable. A couple of days later I took Rosy to lunch and actually managed to scare up the courage to ask her. She opened up to me very freely and I sat across from her like a deer in headlights. What she told me stopped me in my tracks.

With that, I have to say what she told me does not exactly jive with a lot of the information I have read on line.  According to Rosy she met Charles Sr. when she was still a teenager and that she knew about his past criminal record but thought that she could change him. She said that they started a relationship and soon got married.  She said that the Charles Manson that she married was not the monster that broke into the headlines 15 years later. She also said that contrary to the story that she left him after they arrived in California was not true. According to her after they left Ohio he informed her in Oklahoma that the car they were driving was stolen and that she got out of the car at a gas station with her suitcase and let him continue on his own. She said she spent several days there waiting for her family to send her bus fare to get back home and that she had not yet told Charles Sr. that she was pregnant. She also said that after she got out in Oklahoma that she had no real further contact with him and filed for divorce after returning home. It wasn't until his arrest for the murders that she had any idea where he was or what he had been up to. By that time Rosy had gone on with her life. Yes, she was shocked but she felt that she was not in any way connected to him anymore.

Jay seemed to be a different case though. In an odd way he seemed to get kind of kick out of letting people know who his father was. Everybody started cutting him a really wide berth but Rosy was the one who seemed to pay the brunt of it. I watched people at the hotel who had worked with her for years just distance themselves very quickly as though she was the one who had done something wrong.  Thanks to Jay word spread pretty quickly and Rosy became an outcast of sorts. My heart went out to her and just a handful of us stood by her side. Within just a couple of months she quit. I moved soon after ward and lost contact with her.

From what I have found out on line, Jay visited, or at least attempted to visit his father in prison and from what I have heard those attempts did not go well. I really can't imagine that they would have.

Again, Rosy was a treasure and I am glad that I got to know her. Jay, at the time, had some issues and I can understand why. It seems he may have tried to reconcile some of those things but it appears as though he just wasn't able to. I am sad to hear of their passing and I hope that they are both at peace.

Matt, thank you for letting me share this. I have not talked about this experience in decades. It still amazes me what is capable of passing through our lives.

Kindly contributed by Mango Man

DebS here-

I certainly appreciate Mango Man sharing the story that Rosalie told him, however I think it was just that, a story. Official records do not bear out what Rosalie told Mango Man. Giving Rosalie the benefit of the doubt I'm hoping that she was just trying to distance herself and her loved ones from Charles Manson.

Charles M Manson (Jr.) was born in California.
And here is his death record, he had changed his name to Charles Jay White and the record is in the name CJ White.

Apparently, according to my sources, Rosalie did separate from Charlie a couple of months before Charles Jr. was born. Rosalie filed for divorce, in California, from Charlie July 9, 1957 and the divorce was final Sept. 10, 1958, she was granted custody of Charles Jr. While Charlie was in prison Rosalie hooked up with a man named Jack White. She and Jack had son Jesse White before her divorce from Charles was final. They had another son the following year. Both of the White boys were born in California.

Rosalie and her then husband Jack White moved to Cadiz OH in the early 1960's to be near Rosalie's family. In 1965 Rosalie and Jack divorced. Rosalie stayed in Ohio and Jack went to Texas.

On Jan. 3, 1971 Jack and Rosalie's youngest son Jed was killed by an accidental shotgun blast at age 11.

On August 23, 1986 Rosalie and Jack's oldest son, Jesse, died of an overdose in Houston Texas. 

Rosalie had married two more times after she divorced Jack White, the first ending in divorce and the second when she was widowed.  She did not have anymore children. She spent the last six years of her life living near Tucson AZ and died August 21, 2009.

ROSALIE HANDLEY, 71, a six-year resident of Green Valley, and formerly of Las Vegas, Nev., lost her battle with lung cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson on Aug. 21, 2009.

Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:17 PM MST

She was a member of the Green Valley Elks, San Ignacio Golf Club and the Canoa Hills Women’s Golf Assoc. as well as a former member of the Country Club of Green Valley and the Elks bowling league.

She enjoyed playing golf, bowling, dancing, playing cards, slot machines and spending time with her family.

Rosalie is survived by her loving companion Dr. Milton G. Mooney; brother Clarence (Buster) Willis; sisters Eileen Bradley, Maryann Horton and Amy Mulvey; daughter-in-law Elizabeth Whitlock; grandson Paul White; stepdaughters Laura Walker and Charlene Vinyard; and stepson Smokey Joe Handley.

She was preceded in death by her husband Jack Handley; and sons Jay, Jesse and Jed White.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, at the Green Valley Elks Lodge.


beauders said...

How tragic that she lost three children before her own death.

AustinAnn74 said...

What horrible tragedies to befall a family! That poor woman really suffered! I almost fainted when I read this whole story, because the town her son Jesse OD'd in is the town NEXT to the one I grew up in. I am very familiar with that area (Alvin, Texas). I also know exactly where Acres Homes neighborhood is. Not a nice place! Very dangerous, and filled with drugs, violence & gangs.

orwhut said...

My Deb, you're good!

Patty is Dead said...

Green Valley AZ is a pretty affluent retirement community. She must have had some money stored up.

Patty wonders if Mango Man is Cutter? Probably not. It turns out that there are plenty of people who do this sort of thing: making up stories for attention.

In addition to "The woman who was not there" which is about a fake 9/11 survivor, another good documentary on the subject is called "The Imposter." This guy actually fooled the family of a missing child into believing he was their own son! Why did they believe him? They wanted it really badly: that's why.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Quite simply there is no getting ANYTHING past DebS. You've been noticed, Cutters of the world! :)

Matt said...

No, Patty. I don't think Mango Man made anything up. I have no reason to doubt that he worked with Rosalie & met Jay. I (and Deb) just think that Rosalie (for good reason) colored her story a bit to make it look like she gave up on CM earlier than she did. Reason being that if she continued all the way to CA she did it in a stolen car. I don't blame her. Her step-son outted her to her co-workers. She ultimately had to leave that job because of it.

Patty is Dead said...

OK Mango, you are off the hook. :)

DebS said...

Rosalie did have a tragic life overall and it's heartbreaking. I'm am glad that towards the end of her life she was able to "belong" and enjoy herself a bit. I was told that her fourth husband, Handley, was retired military and she received his pension after he died. I suppose that gave her some freedom with her finances.

orwhut said...

I'm trying to imagine Charlie on the golf course.

Suze said...

>>>orwhut said...
I'm trying to imagine Charlie on the golf course.<<<

He'd cheat on his score card and Star would be carrying his clubs.

Farflung said...

Reading this story reminded me of when I was home on leave from the military and visiting a high school friend. His mother comes into the kitchen and says to me, “you won’t believe this, but Dave Carpenter (not his real name) was killed in prison!” I guess my reaction must have been the definition of nonplussed, since the mother went on to repeat some speech about what a group of insensitive people we had become, by not displaying any shock or angst over the demise of a classmate.

I grew up in a small town where you graduated high school with the same group of kids you entered kindergarten with, so there was a fairly long history amongst us. If there was such a category as ‘Most Likely to be Killed in Prison’ for the yearbook, Dave Carpenter would have won the voting with an extremely wide margin. For as long as anyone could remember, he was the sado-bully with absolutely no impulse control, and this certainly was no secret to our parents or any school officials. But you bury saints and not humans, so it is supposed to become some unforeseeable event, steeped in tragedy.

Having one child die is potentially tragic and unforeseeable. Three…. Not so much. Suicide, drug overdose, and accidental shotgun shooting reside well outside the realm of statistical averages for one family. How many ‘dodged bullets’ passed that group before such a collection of untimely ends? Much like the mysteries associated with the ‘Family’ that data will be hard to gather, and thoroughly marinated in lore.

AustinAnn74 said...

That documentary "The Imposter" was freaky! You know what I don't understand about that whole deal? How could that family have not known it wasn't their son? I mean, the kid that went missing was extremely blonde with light blue eyes. The imposter was dark skinned with dark eyes. I think the whole thing was just weird. Did the documentary leave you wondering if the family knew the guy was an imposter? I just don't see how the mother of the missing kid could of.thought that dark guy was her blonde/blue-eyed son. Very strange!!!

Patty is Dead said...

The imposter claimed to have been a sexually exploited child whose captors had altered his appearance to conceal his true identity. "He had been through so much," the missing child's mother stated. "Of COURSE he was going to be different." The imposter successfully exploited everyone's gut reaction to hearing about abused children and logic flew out the window.

LH said...

I love this blog. Very interesting post!

AustinAnn74 said...

Yeah, that imposter ass really pissed me off. He was smirking throughout the whole documentary, like he was proud of what he did. As a matter of fact, I think he was very proud of his fooling people. Question is, what happened to the little boy? So incredibly sad!

orwhut said...

Suze said…
He'd cheat on his scorecard and Star would be carrying his clubs.

I hope he'd at least wash his own balls.

Patty is Dead said...

Whut said "balls" huh-huh

orwhut said...

Golf balls, Panamint Patty. There used to be nifty little machines on the golf course that got them spotless.