Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the deadly home invasion that claimed the lives of his wife and two daughters, said today that he did not end his own life because he didn't want to risk not being reunited with them in heaven.
"I thought of the afterlife and if I was going to meet up with my family," said Petit in his first interview since his family's killer, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death last month. "I thought that [if I kiilled myself], maybe I would never meet up with them again, and I wasn't willing to take that chance."
Petit, speaking to Oprah Winfrey in his parent's Connecticut home where he has lived since his own was burned in the 2007 assault on his family, said that his relationship with God is at a "stand off" since his family was killed.
"I believe in God, but I was pretty angry with him for a long time," said Petit. "I've talked to a lot of smart people who have told me it's OK to be angry with God. God can take it."
Petit's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and the couple's two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, were all killed during a July 2007 home invasion carried out by Hayes and his alleged accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky.
Hayes is awaiting execution on Connecticut's death row and Komisarjevsky's trial is expected to begin in February.
Hayes was convicted of raping and strangling Hawke-Petit and Komisarjevsky is charged with sexually assaulting Michaela. Both Michaela and Hayley died after they were tied to their beds, doused with gasoline and the house was set on fire.
Petit says closure will never be possible and he doesn't consider forgiveness an option either.
"I don't think you can forgive ultimate evil," he said. "You can forgive someone who stole your car. You can forgive someone who slaps you in the face. You can forgive someone who insulted you. You can forgive someone who caused an accident. I think forgiving the essence of evil is not appropriate."
Describing a life without his family, Petit told Winfrey that he spends many days locked in his room, unable to face to the world. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and has frequent flashbacks to the day his family was attacked.
Petit himself suffered severe injuries, having been beaten in the head by a bat and tied up in the family's garage.
"I went to sleep one night in a nice home with a loving family and basically awoke in an emergency room, naked on a gurney with no family, no home," said Petit. "Everything was just gone."
Asked what it's like to live with the constant reminder that his family is gone, Petit said the daytime hours are easier and that falling asleep is still hard.
"There are intrusive thoughts banging into your brain, replaying over and over and over again in your mind," said Petit.
Petit said he has considered the "what ifs" hundreds of times.
"What if someone had slid the latch over on the basement door, what if I had been able to get free earlier?" said Petit. "Magical thinking, to make it all better."
Petit attended every day of Hayes' trial, leaving only during the medical examiner's testimony detailing the physical harm done to the three women, saying it was "too hard to hear." Admitting that he cried a lot during the court proceedings, Petit said that he showed up every day because he is the "only face left" in the family.