Lewis Morphy Paradise Cave Dayton Tennessee

Lewis Morphy Paradise Cave Dayton Tennessee

Pictured above at the opening of the Paradise Cave Resort is Ted Morphy, Mrs. Ted Morphy, Dr. j.J.Rodgers, Paradise Cave owner Lewis Morphy, Lewis Morphy Jr. Paradise Cave owner Boots Morphy, and daughter Valerie Morphy. ( Photo Courtesy of Patti Graham)

Hollywood Stuntman and Dayton Paradise Cave Resort Owner Commits Murder/Suicide

A movie stuntman from Hollywood, California with ties to Walden’s Ridge committed a double murder and then took his own life in his Hollywood Hills, California home on November 7, 1958.

Lewis Harris Morphy, age 54, was an expert marksman. He was known as a sharpshooter and shot cigarettes and candles from the mouths of his female assistants. He once toured the rodeo and Vaudeville circuits with a shooting act. In the film industry, he had become a stuntman in motion pictures, and was a stand-in for Pat Buttram in Gene Autry films.

He was married to 37-year-old actress and speed boat champion, Kayo (Boots) Morphy.

The Paradise Cave located on Dayton Mountain was a popular hang-out for Rhea County teenagers as far back as the 1940’s.During the warm months, they would gather to roast hotdogs and swim in the surrounding creek and camp inside the cave.

A few years later Lewis Morphy, having been born here with family living on the mountain, had the idea to develop a resort at the Paradise Cave. With his plans in motion and several thousand dollars invested his development got off to a good start. His plans for the future of the resort included cabins, travel trailer spaces, live entertainment and a bar for serving drinks.

The resort officially opened on July 4, 1957, under the name of “Paradise Cave”. Dayton’s Mayor Dr. J.J. Rodgers along with other local dignitaries were on hand for the celebration. About a year into the endeavor is when things started to go wrong. Rhea County Sheriff Bill Vaughn along with twelve officers raided the resort after two plainclothesmen from the state made their report to the Sheriff.

Morphy was arrested on five charges, carrying a pistol, resisting arrest, selling beer to minors, selling beer on Sunday along with selling beer without a license. Morphy was bound over to the grand jury in Rhea County. He was later convicted on four of the five charges by a Rhea County Jury and fined $200. Morphy’s attempt to revive the failing resort was unsuccessful and later decided to return to California.

On the evening of November 7, 1958, Lewis Morphy and his wife, Boots, were involved in an altercation when Morphy became enraged and fired a 22-caliber pistol killing Boots. Mrs. Sophie Rosinski, age 70, tried to help her daughter Boots, when Lewis Morphy shoved her away causing her to fall and strike her head against the corner of a living room table.

After the shooting, Morphy called a friend in nearby Burbank and told him “I have just killed Boots. Now I’m going to kill myself”. He apparently did not know that Mrs. Rosinski had already died from the injuries she received in the fall.

Lewis Morphy was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Autopsy reports later concluded that both Lewis and Boots died from gunshot wounds while Mrs. Rosinski had died from blunt force to the head.


Copyright All Rights Reserved -Yesterday In Dayton





Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.

1 Comment

  • Bekki wampler

    April 17, 2020 at 4:26 am

    That looks like a great place to swim NOW. I guess from what you found in the research, Mr. Morphy and his wife were into some very shady and sketchy things. I mean those charges for THAT era made them the real “Wrong side of the tracks” type of folks. No shock they did enough damage to him to force him back to California.

    Great read as ALWAYS Dean!!

error: Content is protected !!