It could take up to two weeks before authorities know what killed a Ladson man found dead in his jail cell while awaiting trial in the killing of a Grand Strand doctor in Kansas last year.
John Meredith Hodges, 45, was found unresponsive Monday in the Johnson County, Kan., jail by a deputy, said Johnson County Master Deputy Tom Erickson.
Authorities have said Hodges’ death is being investigated as a suicide, but Erickson would not say what led to that conclusion. He said he could not provide further details until the local coroner’s office completes its investigation, which could take up two weeks.
Hodges was charged with first- degree murder in the September killing of 39-year-old Franchesca D. Brown of Myrtle Beach. Her body was found Sept. 12 in woods near an Overland Park hotel. She was in the Kansas City area to attend a medical conference.
Hodges, a timber business owner who had also lived in North Charleston, fled to Colombia after her death, but investigators nabbed him there and brought him back to Kansas.
The Kansas City Star reported that Hodges told detectives he strangled Brown during an argument inside her hotel room.
During a preliminary hearing in February, one of Brown’s friends testified that Brown met Hodges in 2008 on the website millionairematch.com, the Star reported. Brown dated another man for several years, but she reconnected in August with Hodges, who kept telling her how much he loved her, the newspaper reported.
He called her “Charleston,” because they had met for the first time in person in the Holy City, the article stated.
The Star reported that Brown texted her sister from Kansas shortly before her death with news that she and Hodges planned to get a house together in South Carolina.
Brown, a pediatrician who had just taken a job at Community Health Partners in Conway, is thought to have invited Hodges to meet her at the conference in Kansas, authorities have said.
A detective testified at the preliminary hearing that a laptop computer Hodges had with him when he was arrested contained information from online searches conducted Sept. 4 using the wireless Internet connection from the Kansas hotel where Brown was staying, the Star reported.
The Star reported that several Google searches were done on the computer that day using such terms as “How long does it take to choke someone to death?” and “How long does it take to suffocate someone?”
The detective also testified that another search, about 90 minutes later, centered on “How to wrap a dead body not to smell,” the newspaper reported.
Another police investigator testified that when Hodges was picked up in Colombia he talked to the detective about abusing prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Percocet, the Star reported.
Hodges’ wife, whom he was separated from at the time of his arrest, has told The Post and Courier he had recently moved to Colombia, where he had unspecified business interests. Attempts to reach her Wednesday proved unsuccessful, as her phone had been disconnected and her Facebook page removed.