A mother’s journey to get justice for Zhennavie

A mother’s quest for justice

A mother's quest for justice

Michelle Werlein sat with her family Tuesday at the Ramsey County Courthouse to hear a jury return a guilty verdict in the death of her daughter, Zhennavie Bauman.

Jurors found 32-year-old Bret Ryne Lott guilty of third-degree murder by distributing a controlled substance.

‘It was sense of relief, also validation that my daughter’s life had meaning and purpose,” said Werlein.

Back in 2019, Werlein received a call that changed her life, her daughter was found dead in a Roseville motel room.

Investigators said the room had been cleared of all personal items and moveable furnishing where the 27-year-old’s body was found.

Court charges indicate Lott called his mother and told her the victim “… had only spent nine dollars on the drugs and there was no way a person could die from that small amount.”  

The complaint went on to note, “Lott told his mother he was afraid of contacting the police because he and the woman had been doing drugs together and he had warrants for his arrest.”

Lott was charged with selling the opioids that led to Zhennavie’s death.

“We spent so much time into trying to find out where he was, it was really difficult,” Werlein said.

Last year, law enforcement credited this mother, for helping them track down and arrest Lott. The family said they tracked social media, interviewed friends and offered a reward that eventually tipped off police to Lott’s whereabouts.

“My daughter kept me going,” Werlein said. “I didn’t have a choice but to continue to fight for her.”

Bauman’s family told KSTP they are grateful to Roseville police and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for working to get justice for Zhennavie.

Lott is scheduled to be sentenced June 2 in Ramsey County Court in St. Paul.