Charles Manson’s Wife, Rosalie Jean Willis: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Manson in 2009

Charles Manson’s first wife was Rosalie Jean Willis. He passed away on Sunday night, but Rosalie Lee passed away years before him. Manson was only married twice — the second time to Candy Stevens — but he was later engaged in 2014 to 26-year-old Afton Elain “Star” Burton. He has at least three children, but has said publicly that he could have more children that he doesn’t know about. Manson and his first wife, Willis, were married in 1955 and divorced a short time later in 1958. Rosalie passed away on August 21, 2009 in Tucson, Arizona, after battling lung cancer.

1. Rosalie Jean Willis Was Only 15 When She and Manson Married

Willis was the daughter of a coal miner. When Manson and Willis married in January 1955, Willis was a hospital waitress. She was only 15 and Manson was 20. Manson later said that he and Willis had genuine marital happiness, even if it only lasted a short time. He supported them through small jobs and car theft. They moved to Los Angeles when Willis was three months pregnant, and a short time later Manson was put on five years probation for taking a stolen car across state lines. He was later imprisoned at Terminal Island in San Pedro, California, in 1956.

2. Willis and Manson Had a Son, Charles Manson Jr., Who Changed His Name to Jay White

Charles Manson Jr. was born to Rosalie Willis and Charles Manson while Manson was in prison. Willis lived for a time with Manson’s mother and they periodically visited Manson in prison. In March 1957, Manson’s mother told him that Willis was living with another man, and Willis stopped visiting him in prison. They were divorced in 1958.

3. Rosalie Willis Later Married Jack White and Had Two Sons with Him

The man that Willis moved in with when she quit visiting Charles Manson in prison was Jack White, according to a professional genealogist. They had two sons: Jesse J. White, born in 1958, and Jed White, born in 1959. Willis and White later divorced in 1965.  She later married a third time, to Warren Howard “Jack” Handley. He passed away in 1998 and she lived for another 11 years.

A colleague who worked with Rosalie in the late 1970s said that she was very kind and had a wonderful sense of humor.

4. Rosalie Willis Outlived All Three of Her Sons

Rosalie Willis’ heartache did not end with her marriage to Charles Manson. All three of her sons passed away before she did. Jed died of an accidental gunshot wound in January 1971, when he was accidentally shot in the stomach by an 11-year-old friend. They were playing in the home of Louis Morgan when it happened, according to a local newspaper. In August 1986, Jesse died from an overdose in Houston, Texas. He was found dead by his friend in a car in the early morning, after they had been drinking at a bar the night before. And in 1993, Charles Manson Jr. (Jay White) committed suicide.

5. Rosalie Has One Grandson, Jason Freeman

Rosalie has one grandson, Jason Freeman, who has been outspoken in the media. Freeman is a kickboxer and cage fighter who also works on oil rigs. He “came out” publicly as Manson’s grandchild in 2012 in order to get out from under the shadow of fear and the “family curse,” as he called it. Even in his own family, he was discouraged from talking about his grandfather or asking his grandmother, Rosalie, about him. Freeman now has children of his own and said he wishes he could go back in time and convince his dad that things would get better. In January 2017, Freeman posted a video online in early 2017 saying he had been blocked from visiting his grandfather in the hospital.