I have been revisiting The Kingston Trio, one of my sisters sent me a tape of one of their very earliest albums, I think, with a note saying Here it is finally (but I dont' remember asking her about it...). Anyway, there is one song on it that starts out like Little Sadie, turns into something like a ghost story - but ends up being neither.
He was raised down South around Jacksonville, nice young man, not the kind to kill But a jealous fight and a flashing blade Sent him on a run through the everglades. Sounds like your basic murder ballad. There's a verse about how the posse gives up looking for him since he's just gonna die there anyway (where a man can hide and never be found, and have no fear of the baying hound, But he better keep a-running and don't stand still, if the skeeters don't get him then the gators will), a verse about how his girlfriend marries someone else and everybody thinks he's dead but "the natives" still sometimes see him running through the Everglades (running like a dog through the Everglades)... So now it sounds like your basic ghost ballad. But then the last verse is about how there are no news media in the Everglades "so he'll never know / That his running and a-hiding didn't make no sense / For the jury had ruled it was self-defense" - so it's got this ironic twist at the end! I'll post the lyrics as soon as I have them all memorized, another couple of commutes ought to do it. Anyway, it has the most interesting plot of any ballad I'd heard in years, and was just a) wanting to tell y'all about it in case you didn't know about it, and b) wondering if there were other ballads with "surprise" endings I might have missed?