The talk of the town in Colorado's premier corn producer isn't this year's harvest. Everyone wants to know what happened to Jerry Miley.

Miley, a newcomer, disappeared after being elected to a four-year term on the town council, known as the Board of Trustees.Now that they think about it, Miley had seemed a very private person. He kept a low profile on the board, interesting himself only in law enforcement issues.

When the Montrose Daily Press photographed a board meeting March 25, Miley covered his face.

"It's strange that he would run for public office. We are all scratching our heads wondering what the truth is regarding his past," said Trustee Al Shriver.

Miley had an unlisted phone number and refused to be photographed with other trustees even for their official photo. He hinted that he was in the witness protection program but was appointed to the board in 1997 after assuring other trustees that his participation in the government wouldn't jeopardize the safety of the town about 55 miles southeast of Grand Junction on the Western Slope of the Rockies.

"He could be a con man, he could be in the witness protection program or he could a regular, ordinary citizen who didn't want his picture taken," said Trustee Don Perkins.

Numerous attempts to track down Miley or verify background information he had provided proved unsuccessful.

Asked about the witness protection claim, Dave Floyd, of the Denver office of the U.S. Marshal Service, said, "That's just one of those questions we are not going to answer."

Miley applied and was appointed to fill a vacant board seat in 1997, and in April was elected without a challenge to a four-year term. Miley served only two months before he stopped showing up for meetings.

Officials began looking for him only to discover that he had left town, loading up his belongings in a trailer late one June evening. Brad Hamilton, who lived across the street, said Miley bought a pickup and a camper shortly before moving. "He told me . . . he was going to go on the road to do a little traveling."

His departure left the town of 1,400 in a predicament: He can't be replaced unless he officially resigns.

Last week Miley, or someone else presumably acting on his behalf, slipped a one-line resignation note in the drop box at the Olathe Town Hall.

"Dear Mr. Mayor," the hand-written letter said. "This letter represents my official resignation as an Olathe Town Trustee."

"We just assumed he was who he said he was. But he's a total mystery," said Mayor Bill Sale.

Miley's resume said he had a bachelor's degree in history and research "with an emphasis on American, Arab and Israeli relations."

Miley listed his former jobs as Air Force aircraft mechanic, tracker, investigator with the Department of Justice and police officer in Florence.

A spokeswoman for the Florence Police Department said no one there had heard of Miley.