Shaima Alawadi, 32, was found by her daughter Wednesday morning in the dining room of their El Cajon home, beaten and unconscious. Police say a threatening note was left near her body.
Her daughter says a week earlier, a similar note was left on their doorstep, but it was never reported to police because the family thought it was a bad prank.
Police say they are investigating the case as a possible hate crime.
Alawadi's daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, and that the note said "go back to your country, you terrorist."
A family friend said Alawadi's family lived in the house for only a few weeks, after moving from Michigan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.