For 35 years, Leroy Moonen kept a dark secret about his dead wife. The guilt apparently was too much to take.

Moonen, a former police officer, confessed to authorities that he shot his wife to death in June 1959 during an argument. The death had been ruled an accident.Moonen, 60, was charged Friday with murder and jailed on $75,000 bond.

"Who knows what causes people to confess? Maybe he's cleansing his soul," said McLeod County Attorney Michael Junge. "One thing he said in his written confession is that he has suffered ever since he shot her."

Moonen, 24 at the time of the shooting, had told authorities his service revolver accidentally discharged as he was saying goodbye to his wife, Jeanette, on his way to work at the Winsted Police Department. The bullet struck Mrs. Moonen, a 26-year-old mother of six, in the heart.

The death was ruled an accident until 1992, when police got a tip and re-opened the case. Police would not give details about the tip.

Moonen volunteered to take a polygraph test on Monday and was arrested midway through it when he confessed, Junge said.

Authorities won't say what the couple had been arguing about in their home in Winsted, a McLeod County town of 1,600 about 45 miles west of Minneapolis.

Moonen's arraignment was scheduled for Dec. 30. He had been been living in nearby Delano on a Social Security disability payment with his second wife and their children, Junge said.

Orville Reinke, the victim's ex-husband, said he was suspicious of Moonen's story from the beginning.