Out in the little West Texas farming town of Melvin, Jean Moon hasn't been seen in a while, and local residents are trying to decide whether she's missing, hiding or just out of town.

The whereabouts of Moon, president of the Ranchlander National Bank in Melvin, has been the topic of local discussion ever since the Comptroller of the Currency's office declared the institution insolvent last Friday. At that time the Comptroller said he had discovered at the bank "serious loan losses coupled with suspected fraudulent activities." He did not identify who was involved in the suspected activities.

The FBI has been called in, which is not the norm on bank failures, and is investigating the case. No charges have been filed.

"This is big news for a town the size of Melvin," said Randal Jacoby, who owns the Melvin Feed and Seed store, a gathering place in this town of 210 people.

Jacoby said the people who have been in his store lately "are disgusted that we don't have a bank here. It's inconvenient."

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has taken over custody of the bank and has begun paying off the depositors.

At the time it was shut down, the bank had $4.1 million in deposits in 600 accounts. Only $99,000 of that was not covered by federal insurance, the FDIC said.

Things are going smoothly on the repayment front.

"It only took me about five minutes," Jacoby said. "They had the check already made out."

But the whereabouts of Moon, who reportedly came to the bank from Houston about two years ago, are somewhat more confusing. Rumors are afloat around Melvin.

"She is not in the bank at this time," an FDIC spokesman said this week. "I wouldn't know where she is . I'm just here to pay off deposits."

No one answered repeated attempts to phone her at home. The press has reported that she is missing. Glenn Weatherman, the sheriff of nearby Brady, where Moon lives, said today he hasn't seen her in about 10 days or two weeks.

"But I don't know that anybody's looking for her," he said. "If she is missing as such, nobody's filed a missing person report. We have no reason to look for her."

Weatherman added that he believed the FBI or the FDIC knew where she could be found.

Said FBI agent Pat Cowley, "I don't think we're looking for her. Not that I'm aware of."

Why not? "Agents from this office have talked to her," he said.

"If . . . people are making themselves scarce, it's not anything we're doing," he added.