The well-respected English and social science teacher at one of the L.A. suburb's public schools walked into police headquarters and confessed to having an affair with a 14-year-old boy. With her attorney by her side, police say, Beck told detectives the relationship with one of her former students began in March 2009 and continued until last December.
She said it left her wracked with guilt.
In his 28 years with the Burbank Police Department, Sgt. Robert Quesada had never heard of anything quite like it.
"Burglars, robbers, criminal suspects, they don't turn themselves in," Quesada said. "But when people are overwhelmed with guilt, and they have a conscience, I guess it makes them do what's right."
After hearing Beck's story, detectives tracked down the boy, who is now a 15-year-old high school student. Quesada said he confirmed what she told them.
As she sits in jail, making no effort to post her $175,000 bail, according to her attorney, school officials say they are as stunned by the revelation as police were.
"I think the reason why people are in shock is because she was considered such a good, upstanding teacher," said Gabe Soumakian, the Burbank Unified School District's assistant superintendent. "I don't think anyone has ever had a complaint about her."
Beck, who Quesada said is married and the mother of three children, had taught school for several years in the Los Angeles suburb. She was teaching at David Starr Jordan Middle School until last week when she abruptly resigned. Soumakian said she told school officials she was moving out of state.
After learning she'd been arrested, officials sent psychologists to the school to counsel students.
Although teacher-student sex scandals make headlines and have been the subject of TV movies, USC sociologist Dorian Traube said evidence suggests they are actually quite rare. Quesada couldn't immediately recall the last time one occurred in Burbank, a city of 100,000 that borders Los Angeles.
Beck is scheduled to be arraigned March 25 and faces as much as seven years in prison if convicted.