Ladson man charged with murder of Myrtle Beach doctor

John Meredith Hodges (Source: Johnson County Sheriff's Office)
John Meredith Hodges (Source: Johnson County Sheriff's Office)

KANSAS CITY, MO (WCSC/WMBF) - Police in Overland Park, Kansas have charged a Ladson man with murder for the death of Myrtle Beach pediatrician, Franchesca Brown.

Police say 44-year-old John Meredith Hodges, of Ladson, fled to South America after he allegedly killed Brown. He was eventually captured him somewhere in Colombia.

Hodges is facing numerous charges including first degree murder, identity theft and credit card theft.

Hodges was extradited back to the United States Wednesday and is in custody at the Johnson County jail in Kansas. Thursday morning his bond was set at $25 million.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 27.

Authorities found Brown dead in a field outside an Overland Park hotel last week, three days after she was reported missing.

"You know, to see someone like her character die this way," high school classmate Phillip Herriot sighed as the death of 39-year-old Franchesca Brown came as a shock.

Herriot says the victim was a straight-laced student which translated into a promising career as a pediatrician that made neighbors and friends proud to know her.

"She basically was the ideal person in this community and if I had a daughter, it would be like her," says Herriot.

Brown grew up in Myrtle Beach, and graduated as valedictorian of Myrtle Beach High School in 1990.

"To do great things in the community she grew up in, we're so proud of her," said schoolmate Reggie Alston.

Brown's friends and relatives say there is some sense of comfort with Hodges' capture, but it doesn't bring closure to the tragedy.

"It seems very unreal," said MBHS Guidance Counselor Cookie Goings. "It's not going to bring her back. I wish that could be undone."

Brown reportedly left Myrtle Beach for a medical conference in Kansas earlier this month, but never made it back home.

Police say they believe Brown invited her "on-again off-again" boyfriend John Meredith Hodges to visit her during the conference and that's when they believe he killed her.

"A number of things that during this investigation early on led us to him being a suspect and there was sufficient information acquired during this investigation to go ahead and file charges on this," says a law enforcement official in Kansas.

Copyright 2012 WCSC.  All rights reserved.  WMBF contributed to this report.