A 13-year-old boy in Dalian, Liaoning province, has confessed to killing a 10-year-old girl on Sunday, local police said.
However, the boy, surnamed Cai, will not face criminal charges because he is not yet 14-the age of criminal responsibility under China's Criminal law-the Dalian public security bureau said on Thursday night.
He was sent to a rehabilitation centre on Thursday, the police release said, without giving other details.
The girl's father told news app Jinyun News that Cai tricked the girl to his home, sexually assaulted her, stabbed her to death and dumped her body on the side of the road.
The girl's parents found the girl dead on Sunday afternoon near their home.
Her older brother had dropped her at a painting class at 1 pm on Sunday. She was supposed to go home after the class ended at 3 pm. Her parents realised something was wrong when they did not see her.
The girl's mother said they live in the same community as the suspect, but they do not know each other well.
The girl's uncle told Beijing Youth Daily that the family has hired a lawyer and they want Cai to get "the most severe punishment" for what he did.
There has been a trend toward younger juveniles committing serious crimes in China, and more people are calling for lowering the age of criminal responsibility for minors to give the perpetrators harsher sentences.
A boy aged 13 from Jiangsu province admitted to killing his mother when she tried to discipline him in March, local media reported.
This came three months after two boys-one aged 13 and the other 12-admitted killing their parents in two separate incidents in Hunan province.
None were held criminally responsible.
Jin Yingmei, a prosecutor at Beijing's Chaoyang District People's Procuratorate, said that rather than lowering the age, a better way to deal with younger juvenile delinquency is to establish diversified and age-appropriate correction methods for juvenile offenders.
The Criminal Law stipulates that minors between 14 and 16 can be held responsible only for serious offences such as homicide, rape and robbery. Those between 16 and 18 can be held responsible for all offences.