NORWALK, Iowa (AP) _ Neighbors watched as a couple's marriage began falling apart after one of their children died in an accident. Three years later, they watched authorities investigate a shooting that left six dead and one wounded.

Mary Jolene Forsyth, 39, her son Brian, 18, and daughters Nikki, 17, and Jessica, 9, were found dead at their home Monday along with two young house guests - Martina P. Napodano, 9 and Helen M. Napodano 7.

Rick Wayne Forsyth, 42, was hospitalized in critical condition with wounds to the head and arm. He and his wife were divorcing and he had not lived with his family for about a year.

Norwalk Police Chief Mike Richardson would not say who fired the shots, but he said it was unlikely that a murderer was on the loose. He said the revolver used was found in the house.

Medical Examiner Francis Garrity said the shootings occurred sometime in the 24 hours before the bodies were found. The bodies were found in two bedrooms and there were no signs of a struggle, Richardson said.

Larry Christensen, who lives next door in this city of 5,700 10 miles southeast of Des Moines, said the Forsyths had been having marital troubles since their young son was killed in a bicycle accident.

He'd never heard them arguing or seen any fighting, but ''we'd see law enforcement show up'' at the house, he said.

Court records show Forsyth was arrested on May 25, 1991 for domestic abuse and was placed on probation. On Sept. 5, 1992, he was charged with violating an order to stay away. On April 27, he was charged with harassing his wife. That charge was pending. Court officers also said a divorce was pending.

''We weren't real nosy neighbors,'' said Christensen, 32. ''We always wondered how they were doing.''

Ronda Ostrander, another neighbor, said she often saw Forsyth visiting his younger daughter. ''Then they would park down the street from the house,'' she said. ''He wasn't supposed to go near the house.''

Ostrander said the Forsyths had lived in the home for more than five years and Mrs. Forsyth would baby-sit nieces and nephews.

Kim O'Conner, who watched Monday as state and local officers blocked the street in front of the house, said the Forsyths were to start baby-sitting her children next week.

''Thank God my kids weren't there,'' she sobbed.

Richardson said the Napodana children were from the Des Moines area. He said their mother was traveling in Illinois at the time of the shootings.