Guilt gnaws at former neighbors of 73-year-old Adele Gaboury, who died in her kitchen and lay undiscovered in a heap of trash for four years.

Eileen Dugan, 70, recalled when her friendship with Gaboury began to fall apart."I locked my door and when somebody would knock, I'd peep out, and if it was Adele, I wouldn't answer it. God forgive me," Dugan said.

"I think of Adele every night," she added. "I'm not sleeping. I hope to God she had a heart attack and died instantly."

Gaboury's end has made neighbor June Tsiokas even more grateful for grandchildren and other family. "It's made me aware . . . what you invest in, you reap."

The stench and garbage at Gaboury's house prompted a complaint to health inspectors last month. Health officials contacted police, who found the decomposed body Oct. 25.

Checking bank records and other clues, authorities determined that Gaboury died four years earlier.

By nearly all accounts, Gaboury was a difficult person to help in most situations.

A retired secretary and bookkeeper, she usually didn't return the greetings of passers-by and held visitors at bay on her doorstep.

Most neighbors who did try to lend a hand were turned away. "If you did interfere in any way - in some way that was for her own good - you came away with the feeling that you had your nose pretty well tweaked," Tsiokas said.

Police acknowledge that neighbors repeatedly called them to the working-class neighborhood of this central Massachusetts community of 160,000 to check Gaboury's property.

Police said a brother, Joseph Gaboury of East Brookfield, told them he believed his sister had ended up a patient in a nursing home.