The 13-year-old girl, studying in class VII and hailing from Thathankulam near here, was found murdered in the bush at Syedunganallur, about 30 km from here, yesterday after she went missing since Thursday. Injury marks on her body gave rise to suspicion of rape.
Investigations revealed that Subbiah, a labourer, had tried to sexually abuse the girl.
When the girl resisted and raised an alarm, he strangulated her using her duppatta, police said adding he was arrested last evening.
Earlier, Subbiah had been arrested on December 1 on charges of misbehaving with his niece. Angered by the family seeking police action against him, the man, on being released on bail, had hacked and injured the girl and her mother.
While a search was on for him in connection with the attack, he had committed the fresh crime, police said.