One of the three people fatally shot inside a small house in New Orleans East before 9 p.m. Saturday was described by neighbors as a friendly but tormented woman who struggled with a drug addiction she couldn't shake.

The woman, identified by neighbors as Catherine Caufield, had lived in the home for less than two years, according to the nearby residents.

Another victim was identified as Joseph Davis, or "Mr. Joe," a friend of Caufield's who laid concrete for a living and frequently worked in the neighborhood.

Neighbors said they didn't know who the third victim was.

Police said Saturday night they found a woman and two men shot to death inside the home in the 6700 block of Brutus Street. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison described the house as "a horrific scene."

Police said the woman was about 58 and the two men were in their 50s or 60s.

Harrison said the three were shot to death in the kitchen. There did not appear to be any signs of forced entry, he said.

According to a summary released Sunday morning by police, the man who first reported the crime said he left the house to go to a store and discovered the three victims suffering from gunshot wounds when he got back.

One neighbor, who didn't wish to be identified, said she knew something terrible had happened when she saw Caufield's boyfriend, whom she knew as James, go into the house Saturday night and immediately run out again and go to a Baptist church across the street, screaming.

"He was sitting on the church steps hollering and crying," the woman said.

She said she wasn't surprised violence had happened at the home. Although she described Caufield as friendly, the woman said she had long worried about the safety of people living in that house because of apparent drug activity, and because there had been cars "coming and going all hours of the night" for months.

Another neighbor, who identified herself only as Danielle, 30, said Caufield had always been approachable.

"We spoke. She always said, 'Hey, neighbor,' " the neighbor recalled.

Both Danielle and 57-year-old Connie Darby, who said her cousin owned the house where the shooting happened, said they had never seen violence before in the neighborhood on the south side of Chef Menteur Highway.

"It's always been quiet over here," Darby said. "This was always just a family area, right here."

She said the area had been slow to recover from the floodwaters that inundated it following Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

While homes owned by Darby's family were recently renovated, homes next door to Rosedale Missionary Baptist Church, the church across the street from the crime scene, have boarded-up windows. The area behind Caufield's house has empty lots filled with piles of clothing, discarded plastic lawn chairs and scraps of wood and insulation.

The Rev. G. Heath Allison, the minister of the church, said Sunday that he and the congregation were praying that relatives and friends would find peace after the "shocking" incident.

He didn't know Caufield by name but said that the woman who lived in the house had recently come by and asked for prayers after a Tuesday night Bible study. A man who had lived in the house had attended services a few times, too, he said.

He urged residents in all areas of New Orleans to "speak out" if they see shocking or violent behavior, or if it appears that a neighbor is in need of help.

"They are the eyes and ears of the community. Who knows better than people who live in this community?" Allison said. "As citizens, we need to do more."

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.