Steffen Annalise and dad at funeral

Annalise and her dad at Baby Steffen’s funeral last month. Photo source: Reunite the Rivenburgs Facebook page.

by Health Impact News/ Staff

Steffen Rivenburg, Sr., looked forward to his visit with his daughter Annalise. It was the first visit since Baby Steffen’s funeral more than 3 weeks ago. This would truly be a special visit – at Chuck E. Cheese, where Annalise should have been able to enjoy time playing with her Daddy.

Instead, she watched him be escorted out of the restaurant by police.

social workers police steffen arrest

Social workers had local police arrest Steffen at a Chuck E. Cheese location as he visited with his daughter. Photo by Lisa Rivenburg.

Her grandmother, Lisa Rivenburg, said that she felt like it was a set-up. There was no way that her son was going to miss his scheduled visit with Annalise.

I cannot believe that they used my granddaughter as BAIT to get him here to arrest him!

There was no warrant for his arrest. They asked, and were told by police that they didn’t have to show one. Lisa told Health Impact News that her son was not read his Miranda rights. She later learned that the charge was “contempt,” presumably over the demand, without a court order, for a hair follicle drug test.


Father allegedly jailed with no warrant, Miranda rights not read, while visiting his daughter at Chuck E. Cheese. He asked questions about a drug test he was ordered to take. He has no prior drug use charges.

See original story and continuing coverage:

Medically Kidnapped Baby Scheduled for Execution TODAY!

Baby Scheduled to go Off Life Support Responding to Family – Rally and Court Date on Monday Morning

Civil Rights Abuse? Judge Only Gives Parents 24 Hours to Find Doctor Before Baby is Removed from Life Support

Family Seeks Answers on Baby’s Death – Threatened Arrest for Trying to Record Last Moments of Life

Judge Who Ordered Baby Steffen to be Removed from Life Support Orders Sister be Placed for Adoption

Tennessee Family Wants Daughter and Sister of Deceased Baby Steffen to Come Home

Tennessee Family Buries Baby Steffen as Social Workers Stop Photos – Sister Still in Foster Care

Tennessee Parents of Baby Steffen Jailed While Appearing in Court and Questioning Drug Test

“Protective” Services Traumatizes Child

The entire family is very concerned about Annalise, a little girl who was taken from her family, placed in a home with strangers, and watched her baby brother get sick, die, and be buried. She had surely looked forward to visiting her parents and playing with them at Chuck E. Cheese. It was a 2 hour drive from her foster house to meet them.

Now, the place that is supposed to be associated with fun and being a kid will forever be associated with the traumatic memory of seeing her daddy arrested.

Her social worker Earnest Williams and another worker accompanied her to the visit that Lisa Rivenburg and many supporters say was a cruel set-up.

Steffen Earnest Williams sw photo from FB

Social worker Earnest Williams. Photo from Facebook.

Grandma Lisa Rivenburg reported:

My son said Annalise was teary eyed when it all went down…
DCS didn’t shield her from the trauma of seeing her father being confronted by officers…..
I would label that trauma, abuse and neglect on the part of DCS

Mother Also Arrested Prior to Visit


Mother is arrested for asking questions about a drug test she was ordered to take. She was unable to visit her daughter because she was in jail.

Up until the mid-afternoon visit, Lisa and Steffen had been searching for Patricia, Annalise’s mother, whom they had not seen since she went to court at 9:00 that morning. Steffen went ahead to the visit without Patricia, since they couldn’t find her.

He and his mother found a ride with a friend, since the family car, again, broke down that morning. (This is the same undependable car that was the reason for Baby Steffen’s missed doctor appointments – the reason that DCS seized the baby in the first place.)

After they dropped him off, Lisa found out why they couldn’t find her – because she had been arrested that morning at court, but she wasn’t booked until almost 2:30 in the afternoon.

Both parents were charged with contempt and were forced to submit to a hair follicle drug test. Lisa clarifies:

For the record … They didn’t refuse. They just wanted the law to be followed with being issued the order.

The couple were told last week that the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) attorney Margaret Parker wanted them to do both a urine and a hair follicle drug test. They have been asking why, but still have not been given an explanation, and they never saw any written order.

Steffen parents with Annalise

Annalise with her parents, Patricia and Steffen. Photo source: Reunite the Rivenburgs Facebook page.

Patricia has had clean drug tests throughout the entire ordeal with DCS. She had a positive drug test last May arising from taking a single Lortab, for which she had a prescription, before she realized that she was pregnant.

Steffen Rivenburg, Sr., has never had any kind of a drug history, so his family is puzzled as to why DCS is so emphatic about having him drug tested.

In fact, his only run-in with the law was a domestic violence charge last year. He and one of his sisters got into an argument, and the charge was nullified. It was not even something that DCS considered a factor in taking the children away from the family.

DCS has alleged that Baby Steffen was born with drugs in his system, but there is no evidence to support such an allegation. According to medical records, Steffen’s NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) test score was zero. The test “assesses 21 of the most common signs of neonatal drug withdrawal syndrome.”

Without there being a real drug history, why is DCS insistent upon continuing to drug test the couple? Those close to the family are very skeptical and fear that the people who have already done so much to hurt the family, including killing Baby Steffen, will attempt to falsify the test results.

There was no bond set. Patricia was forced to have some hair cut for the test and she was released later the same day, Monday, July 31. Steffen was released the next day, after one of his legs was shaved to obtain hair for the test.

There were new court-appointed attorneys. Patricia did not meet hers until court on July 24. Steffen’s attorney withdrew on Monday, July 31, without ever having called Steffen. They are hoping to raise enough money to secure a good attorney to help them fight for Annalise.

Judge Demands Tapes of Hearings, Threatens Grandmother

Like many families embroiled in the court system, the Rivenburgs have attempted to get records of court proceedings. This attempt has landed Lisa Rivenburg at odds with Judge Wayne Shelton.

She wants to know why.

After Baby Steffen’s death, Lisa went to the courthouse and requested audio records of the case. She paid the fee and specifically requested the records from June 8 – the day that Baby Steffen was taken off of life support at Vanderbilt hospital, as well as from the 2 prior hearings on May 19 and June 5.

The courthouse clerk gave her tapes 48 hours later.

The family wanted the record from June 8 of the testimony of doctors from Vanderbilt telling the judge about the baby’s condition. This was the day that Judge Wayne Shelton made the decision to allow the doctors, not the parents, to make the final decision about whether or not to take the baby off of life support.

Steffen and parents

Steffen Sr. and Patricia prayed that their baby would have a chance to live. A court and doctors overruled them. Photo source: Reunite the Rivenburgs Facebook page.

Unfortunately, allegedly due to a mix-up, the tape that the family most wanted to have was not included in the tapes that Lisa picked up from the courthouse. Because the case had been moved to a different courtroom on that day, she accidentally got the tape from a criminal case that took place in Judge Shelton’s normal courtroom.

The clerk reportedly called Lisa once she realized the mistake. She also told her that they gave the other 2 tapes to her in error as well. She would need to file papers with the judge to get the tapes because it was a juvenile case.

Shortly after, Lisa learned through the grapevine that Judge Shelton wanted the tapes back.

When she went to court with Steffen and Patricia on July 24, the judge demanded the tapes. She didn’t have them with her that day, but they were under lock and key, she said, in a safe place. The judge then threatened her with contempt charges and jail if she did not return them.

She said that the judge told her that the clerk who gave her the tapes in error has since been fired.

Lisa returned the tapes to him on Monday, but she wants to know why he was so desperate to get the tapes back. What is he hiding?

That is a question that the family and their supporters have asked a lot since the children were taken. They are hopeful that the private autopsy will provide some answers, but it could take a couple more months to get those results back.

Meanwhile, the family desperately wants to bring Annalise home. They don’t understand how DCS and the family court have so much power over their lives to overrule their parental rights and keep Annalise away from them.

The children were loved and wanted, and neither Baby Steffen nor Annalise were abused or neglected at home. Baby Steffen is gone forever. They pray continuously that they do not lose Annalise.

How You Can Help

Supporters have set up a Facebook page for the family called Reunite the Rivenburgs.

Steffen FB page

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam may be reached at (615) 741-2001, or contacted here, to ask for intervention for Annalise. Her family does not believe that her fate should be determined by the very judge who sentenced her baby brother to death. Governor Haslam is also on Facebook.

The Senator for their district is Dr. Mark Green. He may be reached at (615) 741-2374, or contacted here.

Their state Representative is Representative Joe Pitts. He may be reached at (615) 741-2043, or contacted here.

The sheriff for this county is Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson. Contact him at (931) 648-0611 or here. Questions to ask the sheriff (one of his cars is in the photo above):

  1. Were these parents arrested with no warrant?
  2. Were their Miranda rights read to them?
  3. Did they have the right to remain silent and contact an attorney?
  4. Does the father have legal representation as required by law?
  5. Were they forced to give a drug test against their will?
  6. Does your department routinely assist social worker allegations in the absence of a court order or warrant?

For more information about how sheriffs, who are elected officials, can be part of the SOLUTION rather than the PROBLEM, see:

Are Constitutional Sheriffs America’s Hope to Ending Child Protective Services’ Tyranny?