A World War II and Korean War veteran, William Needles served 10 years in the U.S. Navy before returning home to Columbus to serve as a criminal sketch artist for Columbus Police, where he became a leader in the use of composite drawings to track down criminals. During his career, Needles drew hundreds of sketches of robbers, murderers, rapists and missing persons. Early on, many of his sketches were admitted to court as evidence, establishing a legal precedent in Ohio.
Retiring from Columbus Police in 1981, Needles was hired by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in 1992 as the Sheriff's Office Artist. His work included sketching subjects from a victim's description and being called out at all hours to produce these suspect sketches while the image was still fresh in the victim's mind. He also acted as the Sheriff's Office historian and produced paintings for displays, FCSO holiday cards and for works that still hang in various divisions of the Sheriff's Office.
One of Needles' last paintings before he retired was a portrait of Sheriff James Karnes commissioned for the dedication of the James. A. Karnes Building, 410 S. High St. on May 13, 2011. The painting hangs on the building's second floor outside Human Resources. Sheriff Karnes died June 1, 2011.
Bill Needles continued to paint, sketch and serve as a Special Deputy until his death on April 10, 2014.
We encourage you to view the many original pieces of his work that are now "on display" on this page.
All artist renderings are copyright and the sole property of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Duplication, printing, and/or use of these images is strictly prohibited!