A suspect in the killing of a South Carolina doctor in Overland Park made his first Johnson County court appearance Thursday after his extradition from South America.
John Meredith Hodges, 44, of Ladson, S.C., is charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree murder in the death this month of Franchesca D. Brown, 39, a pediatrician from Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Brown was in Overland Park to attend a medical conference at the Hawthorne Suites, 11400 College Blvd.
Overland Park police said Brown last was seen, accompanied by a man, at a Sept. 3 opening social gathering for the conference.
Her family contacted police Sept. 9, after she didn’t return home as scheduled Sept. 8. 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 flew to Colombia after Brown last was seen. A federal fugitive warrant was issued for his arrest.
Although the murder occurred early this month, Overland Park police didn’t announce it until Hodges was in custody in Colombia this week.
Police said he was a flight risk, and officials feared he might slip into Venezuela or another country without an extradition treaty with the United States.
In addition to murder, Hodges faces 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.
Hodges was booked into the Johnson County Detention Center on Wednesday night. He is being held in lieu of a $25 million bond.
At Thursday’s hearing, Hodges said he could not afford a lawyer, and Magistrate Judge Dan Vokins appointed the public defender to represent him.