A day after Halloween, a spooky shop in the Heights suffered through a frightful ordeal.
Jonathan Jindra, 34, was charged with arson after allegedly setting fire to The Wilde Collection, a macabre gift shop and taxidermy business at 1446 Yale St., on Friday afternoon. Houston Fire Department District Chief Joseph Leggio said at the scene that a man had been arrested after reportedly walking into the store at about 2 p.m., emptying two cans of gasoline in a front office and lighting it on fire.
Leggio said the fire was extinguished in about 15 minutes and that two employees who were inside at the time were uninjured, as were two dogs and several peacocks in the back of the store. He said a cat on the property died from smoke inhalation.
According to Harris County court documents, Jindra may have a mental illness. A Friday morning post on a Twitter account with Jindra’s name said, “The Wilde Collection is dead. By my own hand and wrath I say this.” The account has since been suspended.
According to a store employee, the man who set the store on fire claimed that God told him to do it.
“There’s some history between him and the owners,” Leggio said.
The store, which opened in 2015, is black on the outside with a leafless white tree painted to the left of the front door. A vehicle resembling a small hearse, painted black with a metal skull affixed to the trunk, was parked in front of the building on Friday.
Inside The Wilde Collection, as a sign on the corner of the property says, are “oddities & curiosities.” Co-owner Lawyer B. Douglas II recently told The Leader that the shop, and particularly a doll known as the “Restless Doll,” are haunted.
Houston Heights Association president Kevin Chenevert, co-owner of an outdoors store called Wandering Star Adventure Emporium that is set to open across the street next week, said The Wilde Collection is especially popular on weekends.
“It’s a classic Heights establishment. It’s got a little bit of everything,” Chenevert said. “It’s super unfortunate, especially the way it all happened. It’s super tragic.”