The man, who was not identified by police but has been named by local media as Codey Herrmann, was taken into custody Friday morning in the neighboring suburb of Greensborough, Victoria Police said in a statement.
"Homicide Squad detectives have arrested a man as part of the ongoing investigation into the death of Aiia Maasarwe,” police said.
Officials did not say if any charges have been filed. No other details have been released by police.
Hermann is reportedly an aspiring rapper who went to school just minutes from where Maasarwe’s body was found days earlier.
Maasarwe was killed around 12:20 a.m. Wednesday shorting after she got off a tram in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora. She was on a video call with her sister – who was abroad – when she was brutally attacked.
Her body was found behind a hedge not far from the tram stop by passersby. She was less than a mile from her home.
“Out of respect to the family, we’re not going into details of injuries and the nature of the assault,” Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said Thursday. “This was an absolutely horrendous, horrific attack inflicted on a completely innocent young woman who was a visitor to our city.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that she had been raped.
"I just want to begin by saying how devastated I am by the despicable, tragic and violent killing and rape of Aiia Maasarwe," Morrison told reporters in Fiji.
"Every woman in Australia — every person in Australia — should be able to travel home in safety. I can't begin to think of what I could say to her family," he added.
Maasarwe was a student of Chinese and English studying at La Trobe University in Melbourne as an exchange student from Shanghai University in China.
Her father, Saeed Maasarwe, arrived in Melbourne on Thursday to bring her body home. He cried Friday when he saw an impromptu floral memorial arranged by members of the public at the site where her body was found.
“This is the last place my daughter – was here,” he said. “I had many dreams to be with her.”
He added: “I feel very sad from one side but from another side when I hear this support and this help from the people, from the community, from the police, this makes the suffering feel at least a little more better.”
Saeed joined the thousands of mourners during a vigil Thursday night on the steps of the Victoria state parliament in his daughter’s honor and in protest against male violence.
He thanked the crowd for coming and said if someone else had died, his daughter would "be the first" to come to the vigil.
"This is Aiia," he said before breaking down in tears.
Victoria Police released CCTV images of Maasarwe which shows the clothing she was wearing that night, in the hope someone saw her and can help police track her exact movements.
Maasarwe’s death comes just six months after aspiring comedian Eurydice Dixon was raped and killed on her way home from a comedy club last June in Melbourne.
Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city and draws more than 200,000 students from all over the world to study. Despite the two deaths, Melbourne is generally considered among the safest cities in the world.
"It is a terrible tragedy," Victoria state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, who lives in the Bundoora area, said. "As a government, we will do whatever is required to support this woman's family and friends and I extend my sympathy to her family and friends at this terrible, terrible time.”