Man accused of killing pediatrician dies in jail

A 45-year-old man accused in the slaying of a South Carolina pediatrician was found dead in jail cell Monday, according to Johnson County authorities.

John Meredith Hodges, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Franchesca D. Brown, was discovered unresponsive by deputies around noon. Jail medical staff and Med-Act workers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him.

No other details surrounding the death were immediately available. The incident is being investigated as a suicide and remains under investigation, according to Master Deputy Tom Erickson.

Brown, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was in Overland Park in early September to attend a medical conference at the Hawthorne Suites, 11400 College Blvd. She was last seen, accompanied by a man, at a Sept. 3 opening social gathering for the conference.

Brown was expected home in South Carolina on Sept. 8. When she did not arrive, her family contacted police. Authorities discovered her body Sept. 12 in a wooded area near the hotel.

Police said Hodges and Brown had an off-and-on relationship, and she may have invited him to meet her at the conference. Hodges later told detectives that he strangled Brown during a spontaneous argument inside her hotel room.

Brown’s hands and feet were bound with zip ties and her body was wrapped in multiple layers of plastic bags, duct tape and a tarp, according to court testimony. Authorities said Brown died from either strangulation or suffocation.

Hodges was arrested in South America.

In addition to murder, Hodges faced eight charges of identity theft, one charge of computer crime and two charges of credit card fraud relating to the use of Brown’s identity.