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Man charged with killing doctor

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

A South Carolina man has been charged with the murder of a former Brunswick County doctor whose body was found Sept. 12 in Kansas.

Dr. Franchesca Brown, 39, a pediatrician from Myrtle Beach, S.C., was found dead in a wooded area near a Kansas City hotel. She had last been seen Sept. 3 while she was in Kansas attending a medical conference.

John Meredith Hodges, 44, of Ladson, S.C., has been charged with first-degree murder, credit card fraud and identity theft.

Police in Overland Park, Kan., said Hodges was captured in Colombia, South America, where he had fled. Hodges was extradited back to Kansas where he was booked into jail Sept. 19. He made a subsequent first court appearance the following day. His bond has been set at $25 million.

Kansas authorities described Hodges as Brown’s on-again, off-again boyfriend and believe she invited him to visit her while she was in Kansas.

Brown’s family reported her missing when she did not return to Myrtle Beach on Sept. 8.

Brown was valedictorian of the 1990 graduating class of Myrtle Beach High School and attended Duke University.

She previously was affiliated with Brunswick Novant Medical Center and prior to that worked as a staff pediatrician for three years at the Brunswick County Health Department, up until 2009.

Fred Michael, deputy director of the Brunswick County Health Department, said Brown had her own practice as well and during her “off” time here, she would visit with children who had gotten sick while vacationing with their families in the Myrtle Beach area.

“Her niche was to go to the hotels to make to make house calls, so people on vacation would have a concierge doctor,” Michael said Tuesday.

Michael described Brown as community-oriented. He said she was working on obesity problems with children while at the health department.

“She and I at one point were talking about trying to get some funding,” he said. “She’d monitor the kids closely and try to provide counseling. She’d refer them to our medical nutrition therapist.”

“She had that concern for the community,” Michael said.

He said news of Brown’s death has been “a complete shock to all of us, to tell the truth.”
He said Brown practiced what she preached and was health-oriented. He said he would see her working out in the gym at Brunswick Community College.

Michael recalled a Sponge Bob mural Brown painted on a wall of one of the health department’s examination rooms that she did in her spare time.

The mural, he said, is still on the wall.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.