Suspect in slaying of Myrtle Beach pediatrician held on $25 million bond in Kansas

Suspect to make 1st appearance in court in December

troot@thesunnews.comOctober 16, 2012 

— A man accused of killing a Myrtle Beach pediatrician is set to appear in a Kansas court for a preliminary hearing in December, according to authorities.

Few details have been released by Kansas police about the relationship between Franchesca Brown and John Meredith Hodges, or her slaying.

Brown’s body was found Sept. 12 in a wooded area near the Hawthorn Suites in Kansas City, Kan., where the Myrtle Beach resident was attending a medical conference. The 39-year-old was due to return to the Grand Strand on Sept. 8, and when she didn’t show up, her mother called police to report her missing the next day.

When Overland Park, Kan., police began investigating they learned Brown, a Myrtle Beach High School graduate, was last seen with a man on Sept. 3 at a social gathering for the medical conference there. Police later learned that man was Hodges, whom Brown had a relationship with, but few people knew about it.

Hodges, 44, was found in Colombia and extradited to Kansas to face charges of first-degree murder, eight counts of identity theft, two counts of criminal use of a credit card with a value between $1,000 and $25,000 and one count of computer crime, according to Kansas authorities.

Those identity and computer charges are related to Hodges’ use of Brown’s identity following her slaying, which occurred on Sept. 4, according to court records.

Hodges, of Ladson, is being held at the Johnson County Detention Center on $25 million bond. He does not have a prior criminal record in South Carolina, according to a records check with the State Law Enforcement Division.

Hodges is being represented by a public defender in Kansas, who had a scheduling conference Thursday with prosecutors, according to court records. Another such conference is set for Nov. 13, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11, where more information about a motive in the crime and the couple’s relationship could be released.

Brown had recently worked for Health Care Partners of South Carolina, which has a location in Conway. Staffers posted this on their website in memory of Brown:

“As a memorial to her dedicated service and caring nature to her patients and those she worked with, the staff and Providers at Health Care Partners will ensure that Dr. Franchesca Brown’s patients are continually served in the manner in which she served; with genuine love and continued care. We will make sure that every patient’s life she touched as a trusted health care provider will continue to receive the care and attention that she would give, if she were here.”

Center staffers did not immediately return telephone calls Tuesday.

Brown was a Myrtle Beach native and valedictorian of the class of 1990 at Myrtle Beach High School. She served nine years in the Air Force and was honorably discharged. She graduated from Duke University and had been a pediatrician for more than 10 years.

Brown had worked for the Brunswick County, N.C., Health Department and at the Knox Pediatric Clinic in Wilmington, N.C., before starting her work at the community clinic in Conway.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723.

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