In the crowd, rumors circulated that the girl had died and the suspect's punishment was only 20 years in jail. Having seen Coe brought in earlier, the crowd decided he was guilty. Rumors flew around Omaha that the girl had died, the guilty party was in jail, and was only going to be punished with 20 years' incarceration.
The next day, a mob of several hundred to 1,000 men formed in downtown Omaha early on Saturday, October 10, and overwhelmed the police at the courthouse. Councilman Moriarty drove his cane through a window and led the men against the courthouse. Leaders drove Coe to the assumed victim's house in the Near North Side neighborhood to be identified by the parents. The mother immediately said she had seen Coe roaming around the house, although she would not swear that it was he.
When the mob brought Coe back to the courthouse to be lynched, James E. Boyd, the governor of Nebraska, and the county sheriff both appealed to the men to disperse. Instead, by midnight a crowd of 1,000 to 10,000 people had gathered at the courthouse. The mob beat Coe and dragged him through city streets. He was probably already dead when he was hung from a streetcar wire at 17th and Harney Streets. Omaha mayor Richard C. Cushing quickly condemned the lynching as "the most deplorable thing that has ever happened in the history of the country.
The following day when Coe's body was set for public viewing at a downtown mortuary, six thousand spectators filed by. Hucksters sold pieces of the lynching rope as souvenirs.
Ten days after the lynching, the Douglas County Assistant Coroner testified in court that Smith died of "fright", rather than of the wounds inflicted on him by the mob. Those wounds included sixteen wounds to his body and three vertebrae broken in his spine. Despite this, the coroner testified, "[T]he heart was so contracted and the blood was in such a condition that the doctor was satisfied that the man was literally scared to death." County Attorney Mahoney said he would have to modify the charges against the lynchers. The grand jury decided not to prosecute.