SANTA CLARA, California (Reuters) – A seal found dead inside a Santa Clara, California, housekeeper home was likely killed by a hunter, the Santa Clara County coroner’s office said on Tuesday.

The seal was found on a mattress on Friday in the home of Susan Ponce, who died in 2015 after years of chronic pain and a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said Lisa Knecht, a spokeswoman for the coroner’s Office.

Ponce’s son, Thomas, said the seal had been removed from the home for burial after the family moved into a different home.

Thomas said the mother had been a housekeeper for more than 25 years and had lived alone for decades.

The coroner’s investigation determined that the seal was killed by the hunter who had been stalking Ponce’s house and would have needed to have a close encounter with her to kill it.

“We believe this seal was a victim of a predator who had an opportunity to kill this seal, and he chose not to do so,” Kneicht said.

The family had been trying to get Ponce a permit to hunt in the county, which has some of the country’s most difficult seal regulations.

“I’m just so proud of the family, and the community that is here and supports them, because it just shows how dedicated they are,” Thomas Ponce said.