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According to contemporaneous reports published in Georgia newspapers, Green was shot and killed by 15-year-old Mose Houston late on Christmas Eve, 1900 in Savannah, Georgia after an argument earlier in the evening. Houston was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, on the jury's recommendation of mercy. After serving more than twelve years, he was paroled in 1913.
The songs inspired by Green's short life and murder now split into two forms, both staples of the "folk revival" of the 1950s and early 1960s. One version, usually attributed to Blake Alphonso Higgs (the calypso singer also known as "Blind Blake"), is known as "Delia's Gone," and is explicitly told from her killer's point of view. "Delia's Gone" was prominently covered by The Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Bob Dylan, and four times by Johnny Cash. The second version, generally attributed to Blind Willie McTell, is usually known as "Delia," and is told from a more ambiguous point of view.