HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. – Vincenzo 'Vinnie' Ricardo was the proverbial tree that fell in the forest: No one knew.
From what police in Hampton Bays, N.Y., can determine, the 70-year-old was sitting alone watching TV in his two-story home when he died.
That was more than a year ago, and when workers were summoned to his house last week after a report that freezing temperatures had caused the home's pipes to burst, they found Ricardo's mummified body still sitting on the couch, the TV still on.
A neighbor of Ricardo's, Deanna Devon, was shocked that no one discovered him sooner.
"He was blind and he used to wander into the street. I used to worry he would get hit," she told FOXNews.com.
Vinnie was often seen walking in the streets with his cane, Devon said.
Ricardo had been stricken blind in his 50s and suffered from diabetes.
He apparently died of natural causes, according to Dr. Stuart Dawson, Suffolk County deputy chief medical examiner.
Due to the dry air in his house, Ricardo's body was well-preserved, leaving his features and hair intact.
"You could see his face. He still had hair on his head," morgue assistant Jeff Bacchus told Newsday. "I've been on the job 35 years, and I've never seen anyone dead that long."
"Vinnie had people who came to help take care of him, so I don’t understand this," Devon said.
Hampton Bays is a small hamlet of 12,200 people on the eastern end of Long Island. Town detectives handling the case did not return phone calls Saturday.
Ricardo was widowed years ago and had lived alone since then, Newsday reported. The house was set in the woods far back from the road, according to neighbors, which made it difficult to observe Ricardo's actions.
"He hasn't been heard from in over a year. That's the part that baffles me," Dawson said. "Nobody sounded the alarm."
"We heard he had family somewhere nearby, but he was estranged from them," Devon added.
Neighbor April Cowden told the paper that she used to help Ricardo by reading his mail to him, paying his bills and buying his groceries. But in the summer of 2005, he began to demand more of her time, and when she couldn't comply, they had a falling out.
"I needed to go to work [one day] and he wanted me to stay," Cowden, 37, told Newsday.
About a month later, Cowden said, she saw an ambulance at his house. Later, when she saw the mail begin to pile up, Cowden thought he was in the hospital.
Authorities are at a loss as to how the electricity remained on in Ricardo's home all this time. Attempts to reach the Long Island Power Authority were unsuccessful Saturday.
"Something just seems really strange about all this. There are so many little things that don't make sense," Devon said.
"I didn’t really know him very well, but apparently nobody did."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.